Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens (known as Lawetlat'la to the indigenous Cowlitz people, and Loowit or Louwala-Clough to the Klickitat) is an active stratovolcano located in Skamania County, Washington[1] in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It lies 52 miles (83 km) northeast of Portland, Oregon[2] and 98 miles (158 km) south of Seattle.[3] Mount St. Helens takes its English name from that of the British diplomat Lord St Helens, a friend of explorer George Vancouver who surveyed the area in the late 18th century.[1] The volcano is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Mount St. Helens
3,000 ft (0.9 km) high steam plume on May 19, 1982, two years after the major eruption
Highest point
Elevation8,363 ft (2,549 m)
Prominence4,605 ft (1,404 m)
Coordinates46°11′28″N 122°11′40″W[1]
EtymologyLord St Helens
Native name
Mount St. Helens
Location in Washington state
Parent rangeCascade Range
Topo mapUSGS Mount St. Helens
Age of rock< 40,000 yrs
Mountain typeActive stratovolcano (Subduction zone)
Volcanic arcCascade Volcanic Arc
Last eruption2004–2008
First ascent1853 by Thomas J. Dryer
Easiest routeHike via south slope of volcano (closest area near eruption site)

The Mount St. Helens major eruption of May 18, 1980 remains the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.[4] Fifty-seven people were killed; 200 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed.[5] A massive debris avalanche, triggered by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, caused a lateral eruption[6] that reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m), leaving a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater.[7] The debris avalanche was 0.6 cubic miles (2.5 km3) in volume.[8] The 1980 eruption disrupted terrestrial ecosystems near the volcano. By contrast, aquatic ecosystems in the area greatly benefited from the amounts of ash, allowing life to multiply rapidly. Six years after the eruption, most lakes in the area had returned to their normal state.[9]

After its 1980 eruption, the volcano experienced continuous volcanic activity until 2008. Geologists predict that future eruptions will be more destructive, as the configuration of the lava domes require more pressure to erupt.[10] However, Mount St. Helens is a popular hiking spot and it is climbed year-round. In 1982, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established by President Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Congress.

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