Mt. St. Helens HDR. Copyright © Brian Holsclaw. Image used under Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano Washington state, 96 miles south of Seattle and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon.  Mount St. Helens takes its English name from the British diplomat Lord St Helens, a friend of explorer George Vancouver who made a survey of the area in the late 18th century.  The volcano is located in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes.  This volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows.

Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 am PDT, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.  Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed.  A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, caused an eruption, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet, and replacing it with a 1 mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater.  The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied.

(Source: Wikipedia, Image: Brian Holsclaw)

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