Mt. St. Helen’s Eruption:
The eruption of Mount St. Helen’s in Washington State on May 18, 1980, made a huge impact on America and the views of so many people about how long it actually takes for natural disasters to do their damage!
This beautiful volcano was 9,600 feet above sea level until it erupted and lost about 1,000 feet of it’s top! Talk about blowing your top! She certainly did! The bulge on the north face of the mountain lateral blast blew away *1,306.8 feet of the volcano!
A volcano is not just a puff of smoke and hot lava that gradually and gracefully melts down the mountain’s rocky walls, it’s pent up magma rises to the top. Magma is formed by the earth’s mantle melting! If the magma is too thick then the gas bubbles cannot get through it and the pressure builds and builds as the magma begins to rise. The pressure becomes so intense that the explosion occurs because the gas has to release! *57 people died during this event! One of them was Volcanologist David A. Johnston. Another was 83 year old Harry who refused to leave his lodge when the mud and snow avalanche covered it completely. These people were not prepared to face death so suddenly!
The earthquake and rock slide alone involved one-half cubic mile of rock! To get an idea of how much space that is, all the people in the world can fit in 1 cubic mile of space! That’s a lot of damaged property!
As the summit and north slope slid off the volcano that morning, pressure was released inside the volcano, where super hot water immediately flashed to steam in the air! The northward-directed steam explosion released energy equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT, which toppled 150 square miles of forest in 6 minutes! That’s 60,000 acres! Most people don’t even live on one acre of land!
Meanwhile, north of the volcano in Spirit Lake, an enormous water wave stripped trees from slopes as high as 850 feet above the pre-eruption water level!
Rapidly Formed Strata
Mt. St. Helen’s left layers of strata up to 400 feet thick since 1980. What is so important about this observation of strata layering so fast, is the importance of Geological events harmonizing with what God told us about the flood of Noah. Many scientists used to believe that it took millions of years for the different rock layers to form. Mt. St. Helen’s showed scientists that 400 feet of rock layers can fall into place in just a short time!
In Genesis, we read about the great deep breaking and the fountains breaking forth in the flood of Noah. And we find examples of a world-wide catastrophe all over the world! This flooded tragedy that unfolded, left it’s mark just like this volcano! Mt. St
. Helen’s shows us a mini version of the effect and how fast that a chaotic event can happen! And most importantly, that it doesn’t take millions of years!
Lesson: Mount St. Helen’s teaches us that the stratified layers commonly characterizing geologic column with different layers meaning different ages is inaccurate because they can form very rapidly by flow processes.