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Frequent earthquakes of low magnitudes charge Mount St. Helens for another eruption
Since the massive volcanic eruption that took place at Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, the area has been actively monitored by researchers and local authorities. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has detected over 130 earthquakes from below the grounds of Mount St. Helens since March 14. The most concerning to the researchers is the frequency at which the quakes are occurring. The agency reported that the frequency had reached almost 40 quakes per week.
The researchers from the USGS reported that the magma inside the active volcano is being charged for another eruption. However, there is no need to be concerned as the eruption will not occur any time soon. The magnitudes of the quakes ranged from less than 0.5 to 1.3, which is not enough to be felt on ground and because quakes are occurring at much depth there is less possibility of them to be felt above.
Similar activity was also detected in 2013 and 2014, but this time it is more frequent. Last time when the eruption occurred, it blew off 1,300 feet of mountain top leaving a huge crater behind. The incident killed 57 people. The report claims recharging period can continue for several years without causing any eruption and that there are no signs of impending eruption.
“Such events are commonly seen in active hydrothermal and magmatic systems. The magma chamber is likely imparting its own stresses on the crust around and above it, as the system slowly recharges. The stress drives fluids through cracks, producing the small quakes”, stated the report.
Mount St. Helens is the most active volcano in the Oregon and Washington Cascade Range. The last eruption caused more than a billion dollars in damage. The explosion was this extreme that it carried ash into eleven states and nearby Canada.