30 years ago today Mount St. Helens erupted causing devastation to the surrounding area. Local towns such as Ritzville, LaRue and Morton were covered with volcanic ash in various forms from sticky mudballs to black sand. Read this account in the Seattle times.
Lives were lost and treasured wildlife destroyed in the immediate aftermath. But with 30 years of peace has come recovery and rebirth, as highlighted by this National Geographic article accompanied by stunning photography.
In a 1999 Geography in the News article (GITN – Mount Rainier Threat Pdf), Dr Neal Lineback explained that unlike familiar volcanoes in areas such as Hawaii, the liquid Magma inside of the Cascade Range is thicker and more viscous. Pressure builds up and instead of being relieved by flowing lava, the vents at the top of the volcano are plugged, resulting in dangerous explosions that hurl rocks, ash and molten material high into the air.
Lineback highlights Mount Ranier, which shadows the city of Seattle, as the next big volcanic threat to the Pacific North West. Covered with glacial ice, an eruption here offers a severe threat to the densely populated adjacent areas of flooding and landslides, as well as the ‘normal’ problems.
Read more about the threat posed by Mount Rainier in this USGS article “Living Safely with a Volcano in your Back Yard“.
Geography in the News is published weekly on Maps101.
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