Posted by: magmatist | May 18, 2010

It was 30 years ago today…

30 years ago today, the eruption that changed the face of US volcanology occurred. Prior to the May 18th eruption of MSH, Mount Baker had been the focus of what little attention was being paid to Cascade volcanoes. There was no Cascade Volcano Observatory, and Hawai’i was the ‘place to be’, since Baker had settled down after it’s 1975 ‘little scare’.

Those of us who were in the Northwest will doubtless never forget just what we were doing that morning. I was on my sail boat, moored at Bellingham’s small boat harbor. I heard three distinct BOOMS, and immediately went on deck to see whose propane tanks had just exploded. No smoke, no idea what those blasts had been. Then, the radio news. What were you doing?

Doug McKeever, geologist at Whatcom Community College here in Bellingham, sent this out to his email list. I’ll send most of it along.


Dave Tucker

Doug wrote:

…today is a special day in the history of our region.  Thirty years ago today, at 8:32 a.m. PST, Mount Saint Helens erupted spectacularly, after two months of “warm up” exercises.   This event is historic not just in the geologic sense: this was the costliest and deadliest volcanic eruption  in the United States since we have been a nation.

Unless you teach geology, history, or some other related field, I can’t condone that you take work time today to look at any of the links I recommend here, but you might be interested in doing so on your own time, especially if you have school-age children or if you personally recall the events of May 18, 1980 and subsequent months and years regarding MSH.   The MP4 videos linked on the U.S.G.S. website take several minutes to load, being large files, but are excellent.
The Volcano Blog  has a very extensive set of recollections from people who like many of us  remember the eruption.
Memories of the Eruption, part 1
Part 2:

Doug McKeever
Geology Instructor
Whatcom Community College
237 West Kellogg Drive
Bellingham, WA 98226


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