Mt. St. Helens in August 2005

January 27, 2006


Provided and copyright by: Bob Harrington, Bobqat Photography
Summary authors & editors: Bob Harrington

This photo shows Mount St. Helens from the Johnston Ridge Observatory late in the afternoon of August 4, 2005. The Observatory, located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) north-northwest of the volcano in southwestern Washington, overlooks the head of the Toutle river valley and the debris flow deposits from the May 18, 1980 eruption. The lateral blast and pyroclastic flow covered the distance from the volcano's crater to the spot were this photo was taken in just a few tens of seconds. USGS geologist David Johnston was killed camping on the ridge while studying the enormous bulge that had grown on the mountain's north slope in the weeks prior to the eruption. The blast continued for another 12 miles (19 km), ultimately devastating 230 sq. miles (596 sq. kilometers) of forest lands and killing another 56 people. A landslide debris filled the valley below to depths of as much as 600 feet (183 meters). Subsequent erosion of the soft debris by a quarter century of rain and snow melt run-off have etched the landscape, while a thin veneer of grasses and small shrubs begin to reclaim the scarred terrain.

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