Geography of Hazards Essay

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Submitted By JordanS
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Pages 6
Causes and Effects of Volcanic Activity at Mt. St. Helens.

Iason Kambourelis
Student ID: 250743024
Geography 2152F
Mark Mosciki
12/08/15

Description of Event

In late March 1980, Mount St. Helens began experiencing minor earthquakes, which persisted for months until on May 18 when the famous stratovolcano finally underwent its first violent eruption in over a century.
This catastrophic explosion was preceded by many smaller, warning eruptions, and on March 27, highly pressurized steam created a large crater through the volcano’s ice cap. Throughout the next two months, over 10,000 earthquakes had struck the volcano, and the crater was left with a radius of over 200 m.
On the morning of May 18, a powerful earthquake caused the entire northern face of the mountain the break off and slide downward in what became known as one of the worst landslides ever, (Brantley and Myers, 2000). The displacement of this giant mass caused a sudden loss of pressure, which resulted in lateral explosions in which hot material and tephra blasted upwards at immense speeds, reaching a height of 24 km in the ensuing minutes. This blast floored all the trees and devastated an area of 600 km2.
The volcanic eruptions on this day did not result in slow lava flows, but rather in mass expulsions of rock, ash and gas that flowed down the side of the mountain at rapid speeds. Pyroclastic flows spread north about 10 km. These flows are responsible for the majority of the damage caused by the incident, along with lahars. The hot material exploding out of the volcano caused snow, ice and even glaciers to melt. The water mixed with the debris, creating the lahars, and eventually moved downwards, ravaging the nearby rivers and roads. Entire habitats were destroyed, and for a time it seemed as if these areas were completely devoid of life, although in the following years, nature spread…...

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