USGS Update 2005-Jan-31 09:35

Potential ash hazards: Wind forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coupled with eruption models, show that ash clouds that rise above the crater rim today would drift northeast in the morning, shifting to eastward in the afternoon.

Recent observations: Yesterday’s clear skies throughout the region brought good views of a steam plume that drifted lazily upward to above 11,000 ft, about 3,000 ft above the volcano’s rim. The steam is generated almost entirely from the hot rock at the north end of the new lava dome. A small ash-fall deposit was seen mantling new snow on the crater wall and southeast flank. This fallout probably originated by rockfall off the new dome sometime Friday or Saturday. Today, with the mountain fogged in and rain in the forecast, we’re stuck with only instrumental evidence of the eruption. Seismometers record small earthquakes (M<1.5) occurring sporadically beneath the new dome. GPS receivers show continued slow extrusion of the new lava dome.

Update 16:00:The USGS has also updated the Chronology of the Current Eruption.

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Standard USGS Update

Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continues, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash. During such eruptions, episodic changes in the level of activity can occur over days to months. The eruption could also intensify suddenly or with little warning and produce explosions that cause hazardous conditions within several miles of the crater and farther downwind. Small lahars could suddenly descend the Toutle River if triggered by heavy rain or by interaction of hot rocks with snow and ice. These lahars pose a negligible hazard below the Sediment Retention Structure (SRS) but could pose a hazard along the river channel upstream.

Potential ash hazards to aviation: Under current eruptive conditions, small, short-lived explosions may produce ash clouds that exceed 30,000 feet in altitude. Ash from such events can travel 100 miles or more downwind.

The U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington continue to monitor the situation closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level as warranted.

My intent with this page is to provide a clearning house for links to the current activity at Mt.St.Helens. Please send me any links of interest that you may come across, whether for permanent sites or for news reports. I'm not going to be able to do this all alone and all help will be appreciated.

(Disclaimer— I have no association with anyone or any organization, and speak only for myself. Links and quotes are provided for information only.)

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