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Giant Rock Growing in Mount St. Helens' Crater 144

Posted by Zonk
from the ch-ch-ch-chia dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention a CNN article about the huge geological formation growing in Mount St. Helens' crater. From the article: "The fin-shaped mass is about 300 feet tall and growing 4 feet to 5 feet a day, said Dan Dzurisin, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. The rock in the crater began growing last November, steadily moving west and pushing rock and other debris out of its way as it goes." Scientists think the mountain will eventually replace the lave dome blown out by the original 1980 eruption.
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Giant Rock Growing in Mount St. Helens' Crater

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  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:19PM (#15273894)
    Maybe it's just happy to see you.
  • uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:21PM (#15273904)
    this one time in geometry class i developed a 'huge formation', and then the teacher called me to work out a problem on the board!

    the girls all laughed at me. hopefully mt. st. helens won't have that problem.
    • Re:uh oh (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This happened to my friend MAK, leading to over 30 years of happy marriage.
  • by Jhon (241832) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:22PM (#15273908) Homepage Journal
    The fin-shaped mass is about 300 feet tall and growing 4 feet to 5 feet a day
    It's a Land Shark! [bioware.com]
  • Rebuilding (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder how long it would take for the old dome to be rebuilt? Didn't find it anywhere in that article.
    • Re:Rebuilding (Score:5, Informative)

      by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:44PM (#15274040) Homepage
      The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing its summit from 9,677 feet (2,950 m) to 8,364 feet (2,550 m) in elevation. Cite [wikipedia.org]. The mountain lost 1313 ft in its 1980 eruption. The article mentions the rock is rising 4-5 ft per day, and is 300 ft tall. It has 1003 ft to go, or about 250 days, assuming it continues at the same rate -- an unlikely assumption however because to replace the cone, it would need to not only rise to its former height, it would have to fill in the mile wide crater as well.
      • Re:Rebuilding (Score:4, Interesting)

        by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday May 05, 2006 @07:00PM (#15274107) Homepage
        Looking at the wikipedia article I linked above, it looks like 40-50 years at current rate to replace the dome (look at "2004-present activity" section). One nice thing is that there is a high res picture on wikipedia of the formation as opposed to CNN's thumbnail shots about 2/3 the size of their ads. A picture 3000 pixels wide is way more enjoyable than one 75 or 80 pixels wide -- you'd think CNN could foot the bill for an extra kb or so and post real pictures.
        • The wikipedia article and picture that you are referencing refer to the 'whaleback' feature that was growing in 2004, and that it fell off last July. There are no pictures in the wikipedia article concerning the new fin-like feature. however, they do note that geologists expect this new feature to also break off within a few weeks, and that it is not currently as high as the whaleback feature was before it collapsed.
      • The mountain lost 1313 ft in its 1980 eruption. The article mentions the rock is rising 4-5 ft per day, and is 300 ft tall. It has 1003 ft to go ... ... once the lava dome reaches the crater rim (the current summit.) The top of the dome is at 7155 ft [usgs.gov] so it has to grow 1209 ft to reach the rim, and 2213 ft (total) to reach the original summit height.
      • The first eruption happened the day before I was born. Maybe this year it'll be a birthday present :)

        St. Helens webcam [fs.fed.us], for those interested.

        • Re:Rebuilding (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pizzaman100 (588500)
          I was in 4th grade when it blew. We lived about a 100 miles east (Sunnyside, WA). It looked like an atomic mushroom when it erupted. We got an inch of ash. In the middle of the day it was pitch black - pretty freaky. They closed school for a few days. The ash was mostly iron, so you could put a cow magnet in the dust and get all kinds of cool formations. Pretty fun for a kid.
    • Considering just the height, at five feet per day it would take less than a year to make up the approximately 1,000 feet of vertical height lost. But it's not just the height, half the damn mountain slid away. My guess is it will take a long time to fill in the crater left behind.
  • "Given the way things are going now, there's no hint of any sort of catastrophic eruptions," USGS geologist Tom Pierson said. "At any time, however, things can change."

    I hate quotes like that in news stories. They amount to "there's nothing happening right now, and I dont know if anything is going to happen, as the situation could change as soon as I finish telling you everything is fine". An eight-year-old could have offered us as much insight.
    • I took it that he was reassuring folks that right now, there's no need to panic or anything like that. I'm sure there's plenty of folks who lived through the first eruption are getting a little freaked right now.
      • by anubi (640541)
        Yeh, it makes me think of the physics behind Old Faithful.

        Except we get lava, not hot water.

        I think we all know how a "relaxation oscillator" works, and Mt. St. Helens sure looks like the physical implementation of one to me.

        The difference is the volcano has the phase change difference of the liquid lava forming a dense rock upon cooling which introduces a significant chaotic factor into the dwell time, so no one knows just when its gonna cycle.

        Not the thing for a good night's sleep.

    • by ZSpade (812879) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:41PM (#15274022) Homepage
      The fin-shaped mass is about 300 feet tall and growing 4 feet to 5 feet a day

      Just what exactly is your definition of "nothing heppening right now"? Geologically, 5 feet a day is pretty rapid change.
    • Yeah, but it sounds better than the real message: "As far as we can tell this is not very dangerous outside the crater, but volcanism is not a well-understod phenomenon. This volcano surprised and killed a lot of people 26 years ago. There might be severe and dangerous surprises ahead. If you hike up there this afternoon and get your head blown off, don't come crying to me."
    • An eight-year-old could have offered us as much insight.

      Well, the difference is the eight year-old would be guessing.

      The USGS stating that it's stable now but is capable of changing at any moment without warning is useful information, because it makes explicit that if something terrible is to happen they won't be able to see indicators 24-48 hours in advance and thus warn people away. If you want to get away, there is no precursor activity that will tell you when, so you just basically have to go and wait, potentially for a long time.
    • I hate quotes like that in news stories. They amount to "there's nothing happening right now, and I dont know if anything is going to happen, as the situation could change as soon as I finish telling you everything is fine". An eight-year-old could have offered us as much insight.

      Blame retarded journalists. Seriously.

      Journalists asks Geologist
      "Is it going to blow up? [I hope it will... that would be a big story...]

      Geologist answers:
      [ /sigh...Trapped. I can't categorically just say "No", because the situatio
    • "...there's nothing happening right now, and I dont know if anything is going to happen, as the situation could change as soon as I finish telling you everything is fine. An eight-year-old could have offered us as much insight."

      This looks more like the work of Geraldo Rivera. Comparing the reporting to the work of an eight-year old is giving more credit than deserved. Geraldo is a better baseline for comparison.
  • So this is only marginally on topic, but the story reminded me of a video I saw when I was a kid, I think featuring the Kraffts, that talked about a sulfuric lake caused by volcanic activity. I seem to recall the hosts of the video talking about someone's skin being eaten away by the acid in the lake, but I can't find anything on it in a quick google search. Has anyone else heard about this lake or this gruesome skin story? Now I've got the image in my head and I want to read more about it. I'm drawn to
  • It was on a Sunday if I recall (I was all of 9 years old)and I slept right through it. Some people claimed they could hear it, and you could see a funny shaped cloud on the horizon if you squinted real hard. I kept waiting for the predicted ash fall, but it never got as far as Seattle.

    I visited the mountain some years later, and I can't begin to describe how small I felt looking at the devestation. Miles and miles of forests flattened, all the trees lined up in the same direction, following the contours of the hills. Everything coated in a layer of fine ash. Scary, in a "look how freakin' insignificant you are" kinda way.

    If you ever go, be sure to bring a lantern and visit Ape Caves, [wikipedia.org] a 5 mile long lava tube near the base of the mountain. It's an easy hike even if you've never been in a cave before, and unlike most caves the sole improvement is a rickety metal staircase leading down in the middle. You can hike 2.5 miles up and exit out where it collapsed, and/or hike 2.5 miles down and it gets really narrow and stops. (By "up" and "down" I just mean the thing runs down the side of the mountain, so one end is higher than the other, not that it goes straight up and down.)

    As for this latest development, 5 feet per day?! Wow, that's pretty dang fast. I'd heard a new lava dome was growing, but this speed is certainly a new develpment. Still, it will take a long time to get back to its former size. Over 1,000 vertical feet of mountain got blown off the top, and most of one side slid away.
    • Apparantly Ape Cave is only three miles long, not five, according to wikipedia, which is never, ever wrong. But it is still the third longest lava tube in the US. Must have seemed bigger when I was eleven.

      Three. Three. And we'd better not risk another frontal assault. That rabbit's dynamite.
    • Yep. Sunday May 18th, 1980. I was asleep, but my Dad rousted my brother and I out to go look when he got the news. From Southwest of Portland, the ash plume was a vertical column appearing thicker than my thumb held at arms length. It was quite a sight.

      And if anyone is ever in the area, the view from the Johnston Ridge observatory is amazing.
    • It was on a Sunday if I recall (I was all of 9 years old)and I slept right through it...

      It was Tuesday. In time it came to be known as Mount St. Helens Tuesday.

      That was one day before Wednesday.

      Which came to be known as ...

      wait for it ...

      Ash Wednesday.
    • by kefler (938387) on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:04PM (#15274431)
      I was pretty young.. but I sort of remember..

      It was a Sunday (for the first bigger eruption in 1980). We were supposedly in the 'safe zone', but we all know how that went. We had just gotten up out of the tents when the ground shook continuously for minutes like an earthquake.. Then we could see a grey cloud rising up near the horizon.

      Very quickly, the cloud appeared to go so high that it was over us. There was lightning at the edge of the cloud. Rain began to fall immediately, I remember it was warm and black.. Looking closely at a drop you could see the individual ash particles.

      By that time, we had pulled up the tent with everything in side it and threw it in the back of the truck in a single motion.

      The ride back to Yakima, WA was slow, and the visibility was just about zero. It was hard to breath and the roads were jammed with panic'd people.. We later found out that the campground we were at was covered in a large amount of burning hot mud.

      When we got home there was ash everywhere, and it stayed dark for what seemed like days. I remember wearing a mask for weeks afterwards to go outside.
    • As for this latest development, 5 feet per day?! Wow, that's pretty dang fast. I'd heard a new lava dome was growing, but this speed is certainly a new develpment. Still, it will take a long time to get back to its former size. Over 1,000 vertical feet of mountain got blown off the top, and most of one side slid away.

      It's now 300 feet tall. So by your reckoning it will take (1000 - 300) / 5ft/day = 140 days. That should make it back to original height by late September. So I guess it's not that long.

      S

    • It was a Sunday.

      I was eighteen, living a few miles north of Olympia on Puget Sound, sleeping off a night of partying. I came downstairs about ten a.m. and my parents asked me if I'd heard "it."

      Heard what, I asked?

      St. Helens erupted they told me, sometime between 8 and 9 that morning.

      Nope - I didn't hear it. It's hard to hear anything when you're passed out.

      It was a a week or two before we saw any of the ash. Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick on the other side of the Cascades got buried though.

      Se

    • The ash may not have made it to Seattle, but there was about an inch of it on our cars in Denver Colorado.

      strike
    • I have a similar remembrance of the day.

      It was on a Sunday if I recall (I was all of 9 years old)and I slept right through it.
      Yeah, I was a bit older but I too slept right through it.

      I kept waiting for the predicted ash fall, but it never got as far as Seattle.
      Me too and it never got as far as Amsterdam.

      Just kidding. Don't take it too serious... And don't touch that mod buttttoooooonn. Aaaargh.....
  • by drDugan (219551) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:39PM (#15274005) Homepage
    it seems that 3d virtual environments are getting pretty good. lots of people playing WOW and 2nd life, simms...

    When I see an article like this - I want a 3D environment. I want to download the "map -o- the crater" and be able to fly around and see what it's really like there.

    it wouldn't need to be that detailed, or be a replacement for pictures. it's just that I can't seem to get a sense for the size or the scope of what we're talking about.

    3D standards litter the last 10 years like dead bodies in war zones - but it still is nice to dream.
  • by GmAz (916505)
    Scientists think the mountain will eventually replace the lave dome blown out by the original 1980 eruption

    Or, it will explode like it did in 1980. Hmm...it had a large formation back then and exploded, it is making a large formation now, but will just fill in the GIHUGION crater it made the first time. How bout gather your stuff up now and run for it.

  • Looks like Sin from FFX.
  • volcano cam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drDugan (219551) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:46PM (#15274044) Homepage
    TFA links to a "volcano cam"

    http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/ [fs.fed.us]
  • I remember seeing this movie [imdb.com] before.

    Can't Hollywood do anything original anymore?
  • by billstewart (78916) on Friday May 05, 2006 @06:57PM (#15274089) Journal
    It's how the dolphins are planning to get off the planet.
    • I recall reading a book about a nanotech mountain suddenly appearing on earth. It was in the Death Valley though, and was actually a fake spaceship, placed there by hostile aliens about to destory the planet. We ought to look around there and see if there are any anvil-headed aliens lying nearby. The book was The Forge of God [amazon.com] by Greg Bear, and it wasn't particularly good, although one might want to read it for background, complimentary to its sequel, The Anvil of Stars, which is superb.
    • So how long til the Vogons start rattling my windows for speakers?
  • Who's the lucky father?

    Thank you, thank you.
    Try the veal, and don't forget to tip your waitress.
  • The lava dome was was not blown out in the 1980 eruption. The upper thousand-plus feet of the mountain were blown out. A lava dome formed in the time period after the major eruptions of 1980 and that lava dome was blown out later, I think around 1985.
  • The universes largest pimple.
  • by evronm (530821) <evronm AT dtcinc DOT net> on Friday May 05, 2006 @08:44PM (#15274584) Homepage
    Giant paper.
  • is that... (Score:1, Redundant)

    Is that a fin-shaped geological formation growing in your crater just before an eruption, or are you just happy to see me?

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
  • this is normal (Score:2, Informative)

    by buldir (951689)
    This latest activity is normal for a volcano that typically erupts more silicic lava. The magma at depth is generally more viscous and after an eruption the momentum of the magma migration slows, but still continues to rise up through the vent due to residual pressure beneath the volcano. This type of thing occurs quite a bit at another volcano in Kamchatka, Russia, called Bezymianny. The dome builds up, then collapses, then rebuilds, etc. The USGS should no doubt be concerned with the growth of the dome at
    • IANAV (I am not a vulcanologist), and don't want to seem alarmist to the good people of Washington state, but doesn't this look worryingly like the prelude to a pelean type eruption?

      (Named after the eruption in 1902 of Montaigne Pelee on the island of Martinique, which killed some 20,000 people.)
  • I'm surprised I'm the first one to post this. But it is clearly a monolith, as foretold in the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Doom and destruction is sure to follow. Gather your belongings and make for the hills. If you look closely, you can see some apes jumping up and down in front of it.


  • by Bazman (4849)
    Any rock jocks out there want to put up some new routes?
  • The Great Ghost Dance has begun. Beware! Seattle!
  • Old News (Score:2, Informative)

    by trigggl (758335)
    This news is so old, the fin has already fallen over. The fin was reaching heights as high as part of the lowest parts of the crater rim, but has now fallen over. I didn't bother to read the article because I've been following this since the mountain became active again. It's errupting about a truckload of lava/rock a second. If memory serves, at the current rate, it will rebuild in something like 20 years.

    I was in Eugene, Oregon when it blew in the 80's. I heard and felt a double blow all the way fr

  • As the lavadome and spike grows, small rock-falls happen quite regularly. When they happen at night, the hot rock glows in the near-IR and is captured by the US Forest Service Volcanocam http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/ [fs.fed.us]. There's also a website that collects the individual images and generates daily animations of outbursts of the volcano http://www.luscombe-carter.com/mount_st_helens/ind ex.html [luscombe-carter.com].
  • This just might cause another big boom .. Stick your finger in the dike, eventually it will burst..
  • ...or are you just happy to see me?

    Thank you. Here all week.

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