Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Destruction, followed by renewal

32 years ago Mount St. Helens , a volcano in Washington state, erupted in a cataclysmic explosion that devastated hundreds of square miles around it, killed 57 people and caused over a billion dollars worth of damage.

Eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18th, 1980 (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

A well-known idiom tells us that 'Mother Nature abhors a vacuum'.  She's certainly been working hard to repair the damage caused by the eruption.  Here's a time-lapse video clip from NASA, showing Landsat images of the area over the 33-year period from shortly before the explosion until the present time.  I recommend watching it in full-screen mode.  Note how vegetation has returned to most of the devastated area over time, and the changing shape of the lakes in the area as volcanic ash was blown away and/or re-deposited by wind.

Fascinating, isn't it?



michigan doug said...

uh maybe 32 years not 22?

Peter said...

32 it is! Sorry, I wasn't properly awake last night. Fixed it.

TimB52 said...

The US Forest Service has built a fantastic
Visitors Center there.

The building looks as if it's embedded into the rock.
There's a big viewing room where you're looking right
into the crater.

They've left all the damage as is. The
scale of the eruption-damaged area is unbelievably vast.
Awesome place.

Mark said...

8:32 a.m. on a Sunday. (Funny how one remembers details like that.) I actually heard it explode while standing in the McDonald's parking lot in Moses Lake, WA. Of course we didn't know what it was until a couple hours later, and by noon the sky was dark with ash. It started falling shortly after.

What amazing part of my life.

TimB52 said...

By the way, it's not blowing ash changing Spirit Lake's shape.
It a huge mat made of thousands of tree trunks that were
stripped by the eruption and blown into the lake.
As some trees sink over time and the wind blows the mat
around, you see the shape change.