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FEATURE ARTICLE

Science After the Volcano Blew

Research near Mount St. Helens proceeded despite bureaucratic hurdles, limited funding and an extremely hazardous environment

Douglas Larson

2010-07LarsonF2.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageVolcanic activity and mudflows from Mount St. Helens created Spirit Lake roughly 3,000 years ago. But the volcano’s 1980 eruption nearly blasted it to extinction. Debris pushed the lake’s surface elevation 60 meters higher than its pre-eruption level, greatly altering its morphometry and blocking its natural outlet. The author recounts the challenges, physical and bureaucratic, that he and others confronted while attempting to document change and recovery in a lake located in a volcanic blast zone.

To view a slide show with additional images from Spirit Lake, visit http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2010/4/spirit-lake-1981-2000.


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