VANCOUVER, Wash. — May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington state. While no volcanoes in Washington currently show indications of immediate reawakening, experience has taught us that volcanoes often give just a few days' warning before an eruption begins. Monitoring Washington’s volcanoes and developing eruption response plans are important tasks for volcano scientists and public officials. Preparing to survive and recover from Washington’s next volcanic eruption will help keep our communities safe and get back to normal sooner after the next eruption occurs.
"The May 18, 1980, eruption and subsequent smaller eruptions of Mount St. Helens are reminders that Washington state has five active volcanoes within its borders and is vulnerable to the multiple hazards associated with volcanic eruptions," said John Ewert, Scientist-in-Charge of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. “We are striving to improve our monitoring and forecasting capabilities at other hazardous Cascade volcanoes."
Volcano Awareness Month is an opportunity for the state's residents to become familiar with volcano risk within their communities and to take steps that reduce potential effects on people and property. Safety officials and educators are encouraged to discuss the hazards of volcanoes in their communities. Information about volcanoes and their hazards in Washington state are posted on the USGS CVO website. Volcano response measures are highlighted on the Washington State Emergency Management Division's website.
For Volcano Awareness Month in 2013, the USGS introduces a new publication entitled, "Mount St. Helens, 1980 to Now—What’s Going On?”.
Mount St. Helens seized the attention of the world on May 18, 1980 when the largest historical landslide on Earth and a powerful explosive eruption reshaped the volcano, created its distinctive crater, and dramatically modified the surrounding landscape. Fifty-seven people died during that eruption, and more than $1 billion in damages occurred. Quieter eruptions during 1980-1986, and again in 2004-2008 built lava domes within the crater. Scientists at the USGS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network maintain a dense monitoring network on Mount St. Helens and other Cascade volcanoes.
This new six-page publication, USGS Fact Sheet 2013-3014, uses text, photos, graphics, and links to dramatic video clips to summarize eruptive events of 1980-1986 and 2004-2008, and the continuing long-term effects of those eruptions. Additional video links provide overviews of monitoring Mount St. Helens, volcano preparedness for the public, and information about the silent forces beneath us that create volcanic eruptions within the Cascade Range. Paper copies of the publication are available from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, and from the visitor facilities at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.