The 1980 eruption began March of 1980 and ended in October of 1986. During this time there was intermittent explosive activity. It ended because lava capped off the crater. Future activity is expected.
At 3:47 pm on March 20, 1980, an earthquake registering 4.2 on the Richter scale shook the area, which was the first clue of Mt. St. Helen’s eruption. Many earthquakes followed in the coming weeks, hundreds in fact, but the real beginning was considered to be at 12:36 p.m. on March 27—a deafening explosion, followed by 6000 foot high ash and steam. On May 18th a 5.1 magnitude earthquake below the mountain caused an avalanche and consequential eruption, killing 57 people in a devastating land sweep reaching 670 miles per hour, almost supersonic speeds. Over 500 small explosions occurred through October 24 1986. Significant structural changes have been observed, the equivalent of the volcano stirring, as late as 2006.
On a kinda unrelated, but still potentially interesting note… I live in Washington, and I have discovered that a lot of local artists make things out of the ash from the Mount St. Helen’s eruption in 1980. Art pieces range from little figurines, to candles, to blown glass, and several different others. The link below will take you to eBay to see some of the little trinkets that have been created out of the ash. I thought it was kind of cool that people have made such beautiful things out of something so destructive… especially 20 years later!
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