Golden Gate Photo - Mount St. Helens Gallery
Fine Art Photography from Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Park.
Mount St. Helens is one of the youngest of the Cascade Volcanoes, forming about 40,000 years ago. It is a stratovolcano, composed of basalt to dacite lava and pyroclastic deposits. A major eruption on May 18, 1980 followed a giant landslide that broke off the north side of the mountain. The landslide and pyroclastic debris plowed into adjacent Spirit Lake, sending the waters with it hundreds of feet up the slopes of the next ridge. The mud from the lake and melted snow, along with volcanic ash resulted in a mudflow (called a lahar) which continued west, down the Toutle River carrying homes, bridges, and anything else in its path. The ash cloud from the main eruption was carried up 15 miles (25 Km) into the atmosphere and was deposited over portions of 10 states. The present peak elevation is 8,363 feet (2,549 meters) above sea level. Prior to the 1980 eruption, it was 9,679 feet (2,950 meters). Presently, fumaroles are releasing steam and gases and a resurgent dome has formed within the present crater (and in 2004, a second dome began to form just behind it). Eventually, the top of the mountain may be rebuilt by these growing domes, unless another major eruption delays the process.
A more intimate look at Mount St. Helens, from inside the active crater, can be seen on Page 2
Page 2 of the Mount St. Helens Gallery - from Inside the Active Crater
Mount St. Helens from Johnston Ridge
This is looking southeast at Mount St. Helens from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. This barren landscape was a lush forest 20 years earlier. The first of three sub-zones, this zone was subjected to the full force of the blast, resulted in the scouring of just about everything, leaving scattered ripped tree trunks and barren ground. The second zone, subjected to a little less energy, resulted in trees with branches stripped and trunks toppled over in the direction away from the blast. Over the rolling hills in this zone, the logs on their side almost resemble fur. In the third zone, the trees were stripped, but left standing. The Johnston Ridge Observatory was named after U.S. Geological Survey vulcanologist David A. Johnston, who lost his life at this location during the main eruption of May 18, 1980.
Print No. A00-29-1
Here is a close-up of the steam rising from the resurgent dome
Mount St. Helens from Windy Ridge
This is looking southwest at Mount St. Helens from the east edge of the blast zone on Windy Ridge. This also lies in the first sub-zone as evident by the torn tree trunks.
Print No. A99NW-15-10
From the same spot as above, this is the view to the north across Spirit Lake, with Mount Rainier peeking above the ridgeline. The light brown mat on the far side of the lake is the remnant of the forest that covered the far slopes. As the massive landslide pushed the lake up the far slopes, it wiped out the forest and washed the logs back into the lake, where many of them have been floating ever since.
Print No. A99NW-15-8
Edge of the Blast Zone
At a truly amazing hairpin turn on the way to Windy Ridge, this is the view looking away from the volcano. The left side of this photo is in the edge of the blast zone, as the dead trees are stripped of their branches, but left standing. On the right side of this photo, most of the trees survived the blast. Here is also a good view of the state of forest recovery (circa 1999) as baby pine trees, which began growing a few years after the 1980 eruption, are scattered in the blast zone.
Print No. A99NW-15-4
Toutle River View
Taken from a helicopter ride out of the crater (see Page 2 of this gallery), you can see the results of the lahar that flowed down the river from the 1980 eruption. Thick deposits of volcanic ash were laid down and subsequently bubbled and boiled, creating small explosions as the hot ash reacted with infiltrating water, and eventually resulting in a hummocky surface.
Print No. A01NW-16-12
More Volcanoes along the Pacific Ring of Fire:
Cascade Volcanoes of Washington
Cascade Volcanoes of Oregon
Cascade Volcanoes of California
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