The earthquake activity at Mount St. Helens had built to a crescendo. When a volcano shakes this hard, it almost always spells trouble: magma rising, an eruption imminent.
This is the trouble with beginnings: the beginning is often subtle, and unrecognizable at the time. It's only in retrospect that we can go back, look at sequences of events until we find a place to stab a finger down and say, "Here.
Prelude to a Catastrophe: "One of the Most Active and Most Explosive Volcanoes in the Cascade Range"
Imagine being an extraterrestrial geologist in geostationary orbit above the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s. You're the first explorers to reach Earth (underpants-thieving aliens aside), and you haven't got a lot of data on this little blue marble.
"The town and its fluctuating fortunes are a humble reminder that much of human history has been influenced by the vagaries of the geologic processes that shape the land we inhabit, form the minerals from which we construct our civilizations, and produce the riches we covet." -Lon Abbott and Terri Cook, Geology Underfoot in Northern Arizona .
Dr. David Johnston's always there, on the volcano where he died. He was among the first geologists on the ground when Mount St. Helens woke up in March of 1980.
We knew she was dangerous. People remarked on her beauty: "Surprisingly symmetrical (pdf)," "Fuji-san of America." She was perfect, a flawless volcanic cone cloaked in deep green forests and mantled in brilliant white snow.
Dear Mount St. Helens,Thirty-two years ago, I made you a get-well card. You'd just blown your top that morning, which looked like it must have hurt to my my five year-old eyes.
Had you been walking along the trail at Chesterfield Gorge in New Hampshire last Sunday, you might have come across this scene: Dr. Evelyn Mervine doing the geologist Hulk smash thing.
(I figured I'd do a repost by way of introducing you to Geokittehs. Evelyn Mervine and I - okay, mostly Evelyn - have discovered cats make excellent geological models.
Were you afraid I was Meatloaf? We did two out of the three major rock groups, and then a whole week goes by, and perhaps some of you wondered if I decided two outta three ain't bad.
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