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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Sound and Fury

Volcanologists (scientists who study volcanos including taking samples from their craters and there'd better be some danger pay involved) are casting all eyes on Mount St. Helens this week. Seven days ago strong tremors started coming from the mountain: as of this writing there are now about three a minute. There's also been a buildup of the lava dome, meaning that fresh magma is coming in from deep underground.

It now looks like there's a 70% chance - up from 30% a few days ago - that Mount St. Helens is going to have an eruption in the next few days. Scientists are saying that it will be "a small one" but what that means exactly, I'm not sure. You can bet the good people of Washington State are praying (and we along with them) that whatever happens won't be a repeat or worse of the May 18th, 1980 eruption (pictured above). That one blanketed hundreds of square miles of surrounding landscape with ash and debris, obliterated the nearby wildlife, and took the lives of 57 people with it. One of them was Harry Truman, the cantakerous octogenerian who lived with his 16 cats in a cabin on Spirit Lake, at the base of Mount St. Helens (and was NOT related to President Truman). Despite weeks of warnings, Truman refused to leave. He was quoted as saying...
"No one knows this mountain better than me. This god-damned mountain doesn't dare do anything to Harry."

A few days later Mount St. Helens erupted. Harry Truman and his 16 cats are now buried somewhere beneath thousands of tons of and ash - averaging 40 to 60 feet deep - at the base of the mountain.

Anyways, keep an eye on St. Helens the next few days: along with everything else happening up and down the West Coast, we may see some neat geological forces at work... provided we stay back a safe ways.