Mount St. Helens might’ve not seen its last eruption in 1980.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – With great funding and through multiple experiments, researchers have reached the conclusion that Mount St. Helens might just erupt again in the future. If the current situation is taken into consideration, it’s certainly not out of the question for another natural disaster to occur.
In a meeting of the Geological Society of America, a team of researchers have detailed their findings on the ‘plumbing’ system of the active volcano. Mount St. Helens, in Washington, has become known for a particularly destructive eruption over three decades ago. On May 18th, 1980, the volcano burst and claimed the lives of 57 people, along with causing serious damage to homes, railways and highways.
Even more, the mountain’s topmost peaks were destroyed by the sheer strength of the eruption. It’s considered the deadliest volcanic event in the United States. A team of researchers have been monitoring its activity, and unveiled answers behind its burst 35 years ago. For the purpose of avoiding a catastrophe again, information is our best weapon.
The ‘Imaging Magma Under St. Helens’ project, or iMUSH, launched back in 2014. It was the largest campaign to undertake the task of understanding the inner workings of the volcano through geophysical methods. It used around 2,500 seismometers, and had a funding worth $3 million. Their results showed answers behind the former eruptions, and worrying finds.
The inner system underneath Mount St. Helens is more complex than believed. The researchers found four additional magma chambers near the summit. One was a small chamber underneath the crater, two between 3-8 miles beneath the surface, and another, larger chamber, at 9-25 miles down below.
The largest one might beneath Mount Adams or Mount Rainier, though there has been no solid evidence yet of that estimation.
At least three of the magma chambers appear to be connected. Even more, the larger chamber is believed to be fueling the smaller ones. Through a series of earthquakes, they believe this was the cause of the eruption in 1980. In fact, as the lower chamber ‘feeds’ the upper one, the pressure increases, causing tremors in the ground, and forcing the volcano to burst.
Reportedly, there has been an increase lately in the worrying shakes across the base of the mountain. It has been suggested that the lower chamber has started transporting lava up once again. If this is true, there’s the possibility that Mount St. Helens might seen another eruption soon.
According to seismologist, Eric Kiser, for now, their understanding stretches only to the connection between the earthquakes and those magma reservoirs they found. It could be an indication of a “migration” between two chambers. Researchers are keeping an eye out, and further tracking any seismic activity.
Image source: oregonlive.com