Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos

Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos

Jacob Miller - November 20, 2017

On May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption occurred at the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington state. The eruption was the largest eruption in the continental United States in the last 100 years and is often declared the most disastrous volcanic eruption in US history.

The eruption caused the entire north face of the volcano to slide away, creating the largest landslide ever recorded. This landslide allowed the partially liquefied rock to explode out northwards.

The eruption column shot 80,000 feet into the atmosphere and ash was spread over 11 states. Snow, ice, and entire glaciers melted, forming mudslides that traveled for 50 miles. The thermal energy released during the eruption was equal to 26 megatons. For comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kilotons (0.015 megatons). The Mount St. Helens explosion was equivalent to 1,600 times the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

57 people were killed in the explosion. The explosion caused $3.03 billion in damage.

Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
On May 17, 1980, volcanologist David Johnston sits at Coldwater II camp near Mt. St. Helens. At 8:32 a.m. the next morning, Johnston radioed a message to the USGS headquarters: “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” Johnston did not survive the eruption. Coldwater II was later re-named “Johnston Ridge” in honor of Johnston. USGS/ Harry Glicken
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Mount St. Helens, as it looked the day before its massive eruption, on May 17, 1980. USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, Harry Glicken
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The first photograph of a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The second photograph of a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The third photograph of a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The fourth photograph in a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The fifth photograph in a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The sixth photograph in a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The seventh photograph in a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The eight photograph in a series of images showing the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Clearly visible in the first few images is the largest recorded landslide in history—the entire north face of the volcano sliding away following a shallow earthquake. The newly-exposed core of the volcano then erupted. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Mount St. Helens erupts on May 18, 1980. AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Mt. St. Helens, May 18, 1980. NOAA News Photo
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The ash cloud produced by the eruption, as seen from the village of Toledo, Washington, 35 miles (56 km) away, northwest from Mount St. Helens. The cloud was roughly 40 miles (64 km) wide and 15 miles (24 km) high. Wikipedia
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Ash clouds from Mount St. Helens move over Ephrata airport in Washington on Monday, May 19, 1980. Communities across central and eastern Washington were covered in 3-5 inches of gritty, fine, ash particles. Mike Cash/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A house is submerged along the Toutle River which flooded in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 19, 1980. Area streams and rivers rose quickly as ice and snow on the volcano melted instantly. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A logging operation along the Toutle River, Washington, about 20 miles from Mount St. Helens, in ruins after flooding from ice and snowmelt from the mountain, in May of 1980. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Bob Brown, left, and his brother John attempt to lead three horses to safety out of the Weyerhaeuser 19 Mile camp in Kid Valley, Washington. The yard was flooded by the Toutle River following the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Gary Stewart/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Bob Brown (right) and John Brown climb onto a railroad car, heading down the train along with two additional would-be horse rescuers, giving up their efforts as they flee for their lives as flood waters from the Toutle River begin a sudden rise on May 19, 1980. All four people reached safety but the horses are presumed to have drowned. Gary Stewart/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The slopes of Smith Creek Valley, east of Mount St. Helens, show trees blown down by the May 18, 1980, lateral blast. Two U.S. Geological Survey scientists (lower right) give scale. The direction of the blast—shown here from left to right—is apparent in the alignment of the downed trees. Over four billion board feet of usable timber, enough to build 150,000 homes, was damaged or destroyed. Lyn Topinka/ USGA
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A Washington state geologist and a reporter walk toward the crater of Mount St. Helens in May of 1981, almost a year after the volcano exploded, causing dramatic destruction for miles around. They were near the steaming lava dome with the snow-covered crater wall beyond. Gary Stewart/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A car sits submerged in ash in this May 20, 1980, photo from the Mount St. Helen eruption in Washington State. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A National Guard member identifies victims of the eruption of Mt St Helens. USGS

Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A solidified mudflow covers State Highway 504 near the town of Toutle, northwest of Mount St. Helens, to a depth of 2 m (6 ft). Geologist for scale. USGS
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A wrecked logging truck and crawler tractor are shown amidst ash and downed trees near Mount St. Helens two days after an explosive eruption. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Fifteen-year-old Heidi Havens gives Allen Troup, 16, a kiss as he prepares to board a Spokane City bus, on May 27, 1980. Spokane residents had to wear face masks while outside for days after the eruption because of possible health threats from volcanic ash sprayed over the area by Mount St. Helens on May 18. Ralph Viggers/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Aerial view of timber blowdown, destroyed by the May 18 eruption of Mount St. Helens, in Skamania County, Washington, on June 8, 1980. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
An aerial view of the destruction of logging operation after floods following Mount St. Helens’ eruption, shown on May 20, 1980. Jack Smith/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Blowdown of trees from the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, viewed on August 22, 1980. Lyn Topinka/ USGA
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Damaged equipment on the south side of Elk Rock, northwest of Mount St. Helens, in Cowlitz County, Washington, on June 5, 1980. USGA
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Denuded trees lay like matchsticks in the changed landscape around Mount St. Helens, shown two days after the eruption, on May 20, 1980. Jack Smith/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Mount St. Helens, shortly after the eruption of May 18, 1980. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Steam rises from hot water in a river following the aftermath of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, on May 19, 1980. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The crater left at the summit of Mt. St. Helens, after it lost more than 1,300 feet of elevation to the catastrophic landslide and eruption of May 18, 1980, the surrounding landscape still steaming. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The melted dashboard of a pickup truck located on a ridge top about 14 km north of Mount St. Helens, in Skamania County, Washington, on June 18, 1980. USGS
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
The streets of Yakima, Washington, are dark at 3-00 p.m. after an eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. Volcanic ash covered the streets as people wore masks to avoid breathing the particles. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Lakes nearest to Mount St. Helens have been partly covered with felled trees for more than thirty years. This photograph was taken in 2012. Wikipedia
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Mount St. Helens erupts again, on July 22, 1980. The Atlantic
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
Satellites in orbit and scientists on the ground still monitor the mountain and track the recovery of Mt. St. Helens. This image shows a three-dimensional view of the mountain, looking toward the southeast, as it appeared on April 30, 2015. The image was assembled from data acquired by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on Terra. Jesse Allen and Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A memorial to those who lost their lives in the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, photographed on May 18, 2010, in Washington state. Ted. S Warren/ AP
Living Nightmare of Mount St. Helen Eruption Uncovered in Unbelievable Photos
A tourist stops to take photos of Mount St. Helens at sunset on October 4, 2004. Andy Clark/
Reuters

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