Scientists: Magma rebuilding in Mount Saint Helens

Apr 30, 2014, 4:43 PM | Updated: 5:16 pm

Scientists studying Mount St. Helens say the volcano is building itself back up again, but there are no signs that it’s likely to erupt soon.

“What we think has been going on is that it has been slowly recharging, but it has taken us until the last couple of months to really feel confident that we’ve been seeing that,” says volcano geologist Seth Moran with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Moran says the magma reservoir about five miles beneath the volcano has been slowly re-pressurizing since 2008, when the last period of volcanic activity came to an end.

He says the uplift is subtle, measuring about the length of a thumbnail in the past six years. Scientists have been able to detect it through a vast monitoring network. And he says it is much less than the period following the massive 1980 eruption that killed 57 people and blew out a huge chunk of the mountain.

“Broadly speaking, we’re seeing that volcano building back up,” he says. It’s a pattern that has repeated itself for thousands of years. And Moran says it provides an important reminder.

“The volcano is basically giving us a heads up that ‘I’m alive and I’m going to erupt again,’ and it’s not tomorrow, it’s probably decades, but the volcano is telling us ‘you guys need to be ready.'”

Moran is presenting the latest findings this week at a conference of the Seismological Society of America in Anchorage, Alaska.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Scientists: Magma rebuilding in Mount Saint Helens