ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Mount St. Helens: A Mountain’s Devastation And Rebirth

Updated on October 2, 2010
Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake-before May 18,1980.    Image courtesy of USDA Forest Service, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument-Jim Nieland
Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake-before May 18,1980. Image courtesy of USDA Forest Service, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument-Jim Nieland
Mount St. Helens-July 2008
Mount St. Helens-July 2008
A
Mount St Helens:
Mt St Helens, Gifford Pinchot, WA, USA

get directions

Closer view.
Closer view.
Closeup of the crater and dome growing in the middle.
Closeup of the crater and dome growing in the middle.
Some vegetation growing.
Some vegetation growing.
Another view.
Another view.
Spirit Lake in the left-hand corner.
Spirit Lake in the left-hand corner.
Two more small lakes.
Two more small lakes.
Steam or a small snow avalanche?
Steam or a small snow avalanche?
Penstemon & Indian Paintbrush.
Penstemon & Indian Paintbrush.
Volcano & flowers.
Volcano & flowers.
Standing & blown over dead trees.
Standing & blown over dead trees.
Not much growing.
Not much growing.
Moonscape?
Moonscape?
Deep carved rock.
Deep carved rock.
More carvings.
More carvings.

Mount St. Helens in the state of Washington erupted at 8:32 am on May 18, 1980. I remember it very well. I was mesmerized along with the rest of the world as I watched the coverage on television. But nothing prepared me for actually seeing the new Mount St. Helens in person; and I was there in 2008….28 years after the major eruption.

The mountain had been preparing to erupt for three months. Earthquakes are the early warning signs of a volcanic eruption and the first one was in March of 2008. The earthquakes kept increasing in intensity to the tune of 1,500 over 3.0 on the Richter scale. Smaller ash and steam eruptions occurred almost daily. Volcanic vents opened and small avalanches ran down the mountain. The north flank began to bulge and this bulge began to grow at a rate of five feet per day. So scientists knew it was going to blow and even where. But they didn’t know when. Fifty-seven people died that day, including one US Geological Survey scientist. He was six miles north of the volcano at what was considered a safe distance. No one expected the devastation to be so widespread. It was the earthquake on May 18th that caused the avalanche-landslide, one of the largest in recorded history. This is what created the crater which measured 1.2 miles wide by 2.4 miles long and around 2000’ deep. The avalanche-landslide came down the north side of the mountain and careened in three different directions. One fork rammed into Spirit Lake. Another veered into Coldwater Creek. The majority stormed down the North Fork Toutle River gathering debris and creating havoc as it raced along. And then the mountain erupted. The blast consisted of hot gas, rock, ash and ice. It destroyed two hundred and thirty-five square miles north of Mount St. Helens, and covered them with hot volcanic debris. Ash blew east across the US as far away as 950 miles and it blanketed eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana. The explosion was heard over 700 miles away, but curiously it was not heard in the immediate or surrounding areas.

Mount St. Helens is now a National Volcanic Monument. The Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center is a great place to learn about and fully understand the events as they unfolded. There are step-by-step exhibits and a must-see movie that is horrifying and almost unbelievable. There are also hiking trails which give you good views of the barren landscape and the areas that are slowly recovering. While I was walking the trails and taking pictures I could see a small plume of white coming out of the top of the crater. I was hoping it was a snow avalanche and not steam rising! It was an eerie feeling and made me wonder why I was standing so close to a recently active volcano.

But there are many signs of rebirth. Grasses and flowers returned first. Some of the first plants to appear were the Canadian Thistle and Fireweed. These are considered as pioneer plants as they are the first to appear after major fires. The orange Indian Paintbrush and bluish-purple Lupines and Penstemon were in abundance when I visited. There are also shrubs and smaller trees. But the landscape is still very barren, even after 28 years. In some places it is almost like you are gazing upon a moonscape. Many of the trees that were blown over by the blast still lay where they fell. They look like a bunch of toothpicks littering the ground. Thousands of acres of trees were destroyed and thousands of animals and fish. It was a somber, thought-provoking experience.

This wasn’t the first time the volcano erupted nor will it be the last. Current predictions have another major eruption occurring around the year 2130. Mount St. Helens has over a hundred and twenty years to recover before the cycle begins again.

For more detailed information, check out these websites:

USDA Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us./gpnf/mshnvm/.

An interesting website with all the facts from 1980 to 2000: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs036-00/.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Rose Kolowinski profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Kolowinski 

      8 years ago

      It is definitely worth the trip! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    • kea profile image

      kea 

      8 years ago

      Great hub! I saw a couple specials on Mt St. Helens...it's on my list of places to visit before I die!

    • Rose Kolowinski profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Kolowinski 

      9 years ago

      Thank you so much BkCreative for the wonderful comments! I love traveling and taking pictures. I am still learning about photography - so much to learn! Thanks again for visiting!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 

      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Beautiful photos! I have always been fascinated by this beauty. Your hubs are so filled with beauty - they make me say 'ahhhh!'

      Thanks so much!

    • Rose Kolowinski profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Kolowinski 

      9 years ago

      Thank you Peggy for the nice welcome! And for being the first one to read this hub. It was an experience I will never forget. Thanks again. - Rose

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Amazing, the power of Nature! I also remember seeing this on television and your photos tell the tale of the massive destruction and slow rebirth of vegetation.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      BTW...welcome to hubpages!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)