After seeing the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, we headed for Mount St. Helens, the volcano in southwestern Washington that produced the largest volcanic Eruption of the 20th century and the largest landslide recorded in history on May 18, 1980. The eruption killed 57 victims as the north side of the mountain collapsed and blew out. The landslide devistated a huge area mostly north of the volcano and an ash cloud rose to more than 7 miles, covering a huge area to the northeast of the mountain as the volcano lost 1313 feet from it's height. The appearance of the formerly symmetric volcano was changed in minutes to a large horseshoe shape and over the next 6 years, a volcanic dome grew inside the crater atop the volcano. Activity is greatly reduced but continues off and on, adding to the volcanic dome complex near the summit.
|This photo shows Mount St. Helens from the north as viewed from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. This location used to be called Coldwater ridge but was renamed after the May 18, 1980 eruption after the USGS geologist David Johnston who was killed during the eruption while manning some measuring equipment near this location. His body was never found so he is almost certainly still very nearby. It was a bit of an eerie feeling standing near Johnston's final resting place. Johnston was one of the faces of Mount St. Helens during the nearly 2 months of volcanic activity around the mountain prior to the catastrophic eruption of May 18.|
|Spirit Lake was inundated by the landslide debris, sloshing water 800 feet up the slope of the hills to its north and burying the many cabins around the lake including the octogenerian Harry Truman who refused to leave the area despite the warnings of impending eruption under as much as 600 feet of debris.|
|This closeup of the summit of Mount St. Helens is the first of 3 images showing the horseshoe shaped summit left over from the eruption. The clouds surround the summit area, especially the lava dome which grew after the eruption.|
|This second image shows the lava dome a little better. You can see a vertical column of steam rising from the vent.|
|Here is a closer view of the lava dome and the steam vent on its summit.|
|As we drove out of the park, we watched a pretty sunset over the mountain.|
|The magic hour around sunset produces some spectacular lighting and this day was no exception to that.|