Mt. Saint Helens - A Day to Remember!
By Seth Blumenthal
Tewinkle School, Newport Beach, CA
Mt. St. Helens, Washington State:
In 1981, Mt. St. Helens erupted with the force of 1000 hydrogen bombs. That eruption devastated a once-beautiful wilderness area. In seven years the area, including Spirit Lake, has made considerable progress in repairing itself.
The eruption occurred on Friday the 17th of June, 1988. It started at 5:00 in the morning, and lasted 15 minutes. That dreadful Friday morning, before the sun came up, the already battered mountain created three serious earthquakes, and then spouted millions of tons of molten lava three thousand feet into the sky. The geologists believe the cause of this eruption was the weakening of a huge, unknown pressurized 'pool' of lava hundreds of feet under the mountain.
The mountain's eruption in 1981 came from a different source, but definitely carried away most of the earth that kept this lava in place underground. The pressure was too strong for the remaining rock to hold it down, and it burst. Great, powerful earthquakes in Washington, measuring around 6.4 on the Richter Scale, for about 3 to 4 minutes were the first sign of the eruption. After the quakes, an explosion of rock and debris that could be heard across the western states occurred. Then came the lava - millions of cubic feet of it shot into the sky at 100 miles per hour. Luckily the eruption happened on a Friday, so only 3 people were on the mountain. They were evacuated before the actual eruption.
"I was sleeping in my bed, when all of a sudden the house started to shake harder than I ever imagined possible," said one mountain resident. "Immediately I called and was rescued. The moment we took off, my house collapsed."
We talked with some people who saw the eruption, from about 200 miles away. "The ground shook a tiny bit for a second," said Vern Stacy, local resident. "I was outside, so I looked around, and there was this big 'flame' in the sky. It lit up the entire place a dark red. It took about a minute for the sound to get to me from the mountain, so I saw the 'flame' before I heard anything."
The eyewitness news reports on television and radio treated the occurrence like it was an everyday incident. They gave all the necessary information, but nothing else.
This news, with the memory of the 1981 eruption, could keep tourists away from the St. Helens area for some time.