Mount St. Helens Erupts

Mount St. Helens in Washington state erupts
Mount St. Helens in Washington state erupts

Historical Context

One of the most powerful and certainly the most disastrous volcanic eruption in American history, Mount St. Helens exploded on the morning of May 18, 1980, killing 57 people and destroying the surrounding area.

The eruption was the culmination of about three months of increasing volcanic activity. Earthquakes and magma reaching the surface of the volcano had created a large bulge on the mountain's side. On May 18, an earthquake caused this bulge to collapse - the largest landslide ever recorded - and an eruption column burst 80,000 feet into the sky. The pyroclastic flow from the volcano reached gigantic speeds, as fast as 670 mph (1,080 km/h), and quite possibly breaking the sound barrier.

Ash was deposited in 11 states. Several people, including 83-year-old innkeeper Harry R. Truman who ran a lodge near the volcano, were killed, and more than $1 billion in damage was incurred.

Photo Info

Photographer: United States Geological Survey
Date taken: May 18, 1980
Location taken: Mount St. Helens, Washington, USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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