Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mount St. Helens update

The USGS site is well worth exploring — lots of good information, and plenty of photos. I particularly enjoy the VolcanoCam.

The latest report includes this:

Small collapses of hot rock from the south end of the growing lava dome sent several ash clouds upward and over the crater rim during the past 24 hours. Shortly after 3 a.m. this morning a seismic signal from such an event was accompanied by a bright glow that persisted on the VolcanoCam for about 15 minutes. The glow results from the collapse exposing hot, incandescent rock deeper in the dome. Crews are in the field today taking photographs and, wind conditions permitting, dredging rock samples from the lava dome.

The presence of glowing rock got a lot of people's attention, as it indicates that molten lava is very close to surface, and could potentially erupt at any time. From all I've read, none of the geologists are really expecting an explosive eruption (though they're way too cautious to rule that out). What they're really expecting is a nice, quiet, "normal" eruption wherein some lava starts flowing. Of course nobody really has any idea how much or at what rate.

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