Unified Interior Regions

Washington

Washington's Puget Sound is a complex ecosystem directly adjacent to a robust metropolitan area that scientists from the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center study. Recent surveys have looked at juvenile surf smelt, a key link in the food web that are consumed by predators such as salmon, orca, and many marine birds. 

Western Fisheries Research Center

Western Fisheries Research Center

Research at the WFRC focuses on the environmental factors responsible for the creation, maintenance, and regulation of fish populations including their interactions in aquatic communities and ecosystems. 

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Washington Water Science Center

Washington Water Science Center

The Water Science Center's mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate the impartial hydrologic data and information needed to wisely manage water resources for the people of the United States and the State of Washington.

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Image shows two scientists on the slopes of Mount St. Helens with steam rising around them
September 24, 1981

Gas Sampling around the Mount St. Helens Dome

USGS geologists gathered samples by hand from vents on the dome and crater floor. Additionally, sulfur dioxide gas was measured from a specially equipped airplane before, during, and after eruptions to determine "emission rates" for the volcano.

Gas sampling around the Mount St. Helens dome. Analyzed results us...
September 24, 1981

Gas sampling around the Mount St. Helens dome. Analyzed results us...

USGS geologists gathered samples by hand from vents on the dome and crater floor. Additionally, sulfur dioxide gas was measured from a specially-equipped airplane before, during, and after eruptions to determine "emission rates" for the volcano. During eruptions, emission rates typically increased to 5 to 10 times their pre-eruptive value.

Lava dome in Mount St. Helens' crater, August 1981, viewed from a p...
August 22, 1981

Lava dome in Mount St. Helens' crater, Aug. 1981, viewed from a pho...

In this view the dome is 535 feet (163 meters) high and nearly 1/4 mile (0.4 kilometers) wide, making it taller than a 44-story building (or, nearly the height of the Washington Monument) and wider than the length of four football fields. Compare with image taken August 12, 1985 from the same location with the same camera.

Seismic station installation in Mount St. Helens's crater 1981 lava dome.
August 4, 1981

Seismic station installation in Mount St. Helens's crater 1981 lava do

Seismic station installation in Mount St. Helens's crater 1981 lava dome. USGS, in conjunction with the University of Washington, maintain seismic stations at Mount St. Helens. An increase in seismicity (earthquakes) is often the first precursor to an approaching eruption.

Seismic station installation in Mount St. Helens's crater 1981 lava...
August 4, 1981

Seismic station installation in Mount St. Helens's crater 1982

The U.S. Geological Survey, in conjunction with the University of Washington, maintain seismic stations at Mount St. Helens. An increase in seismicity (earthquakes) is often the first precursor to an approaching eruption.

Lahars originating from Mount St. Helens after the 1980 eruption de...
July 19, 1981

Lahars originating from Mount St. Helens after the 1980 eruption de...

Lahars originating from Mount St. Helens after the 1980 eruption destroyed more than 200 homes and over 185 miles (300 kilometers) of roads. Pictured here is a damaged home along the South Fork Toutle River.

Dome within Mount St. Helens crater (aerial view) from June 1981 wi...
June 26, 1981

Dome within Mount St. Helens crater (aerial view) from June 1981 wi...

Between 1980 and 1986, Mount St. Helens' dome grew in different ways. From 1980 through 1982 the dome grew in periodic extrusions of stubby lava flows, called lobes. During this time frame Mount St. Helens' lobes grew at a rate of 3 to 10 feet per hour (1-3 meters/hour).

Dredging of the Toutle River after the Mount St. Helens 1980 erupti...
February 5, 1981

Dredging of the Toutle River after the Mount St. Helens 1980 erupti...

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preformed dredging projects on the Toutle, Cowlitz, and Columbia Rivers and by 1987 enough material had been removed to build a 12 lane highway, one-foot thick from New York, NY to San Francisco, CA.

Lava dome growing within the Mount St. Helens crater reaches 34 m (...
October 24, 1980

Lava dome growing within the Mount St. Helens crater reaches 34 m (...

This October dome was taller than a nine-story building and wider than the length of three football fields. This dome was not the first dome to grow in the crater. In June and August 1980, two domes formed, only to be blasted away by the explosive events of July 22 and October 16.

Lahars resulting from the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens...
October 23, 1980

Lahars resulting from the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens...

Nearly 135 miles (220 kilometers) of river channels surrounding the volcano were affected by the lahars of May 18, 1980. A mudline left behind on trees shows depths reached by the mud.

Bear tracks found on Mount St. Helens in an ash and pumice deposite...
October 15, 1980

Bear tracks found on Mount St. Helens in an ash and pumice deposite...

Many smaller animals, such as gophers, mice, frogs, fish, and insects were hibernating below ground or under water on May 18, 1980, and they survived the blast. Larger animals such as bear (whose tracks are shown here), elk, deer, and coyotes have been moving back into the area as their food supplies increase.

Spirit Lake and the devastated forest area surrounding Mount St. He...
October 4, 1980

Spirit Lake and the devastated forest area surrounding Mount St. He...

This lake was once surrounded by lush forest and is within the area devastated by the directed blast, covered by ash and tephra, then inundated by pyroclastic flows. Remnants of the forest float on the surface of the lake. Mount Rainier (4,392 m or 14,410 ft) is in the distance. The view is from the south.

Western Fisheries Research Center

Western Fisheries Research Center

Research at the WFRC focuses on the environmental factors responsible for the creation, maintenance, and regulation of fish populations including their interactions in aquatic communities and ecosystems. 

Go to Center

Washington Water Science Center

Washington Water Science Center

The Water Science Center's mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate the impartial hydrologic data and information needed to wisely manage water resources for the people of the United States and the State of Washington.

Go to Center