Mount St. Helens is starting to rumble again in Washington with a spike in seismic activity recorded at the volcano more than four decades after its deadly eruption.
More than 400 earthquakes have been detected beneath the surface of the volcano in recent months. There have been more than 2,000 earthquakes recorded at the site since 2010.
Specialized equipment has detected that magma has been flowing through chambers deep underground, causing the volcano to recharge.
There are fears the earthquakes could lead to another massive explosion reminiscent of 1980s eruption that left 57 people dead and permanently altered the area’s ecosystem.
‘Short-term increases in earthquake rates are common at Mount St. Helens and are considered part of the background seismicity,’ the US Geological Survey said, trying to calm fears.
Officials added there were no signs of an impending eruption. Concern is spiked when earthquakes happen near the Mount, but the recharges can happen for many years without an eruption.
Many of the recently recorded quakes registered at less than one on the Richter scale, meaning they were too small to be felt on the Earth’s surface. The largest earthquake that recently took place measured at a 2.4 magnitude on August 27, 2023. However, in 1980, small earthquakes were recorded at the site just before the deadly eruption.
On May 18, 1980, residents flooded the area as they sat in open fields and rooftops as rumors of a volcanic eruption spread. Millions all over the world waited around for two months to see what would happen next.
But on that morning, at 8.32 am, the results turned out to be deadly as a magnitude-5 earthquake struck, causing the volcano to lose its cryptodome and erupt.
Those in the area had nowhere to take cover. The volcano exploded sideways and sent an enormous landslide of a super-heated mix of ash, rock fragments and gas flowing downslope. The ash and gas then rose and blocked the sun, turning the sky completely dark.
Venus Dergan told Portland Monthly she and her boyfriend, Roald Reitan, were camping on the south fork of the Toutle River, just 30 miles from the volcano.