What do you do when the volcano whose beauty you've admired for so long suddenly wakes with a shiver and blows a plume of steam and ash into the sky?
The Scientific American Blog Network turns 1 today! Scicurious wrote a poem for the occasion.Hard to believe we're so young, innit? We've got a long-established magazine behind us, and so many veteran science bloggers, that it feels longer, at least to me.
(Apologies to Mount St. Helens fans. I didn't have this week's installment written up in advance, and now my uterus has attacked. We'll get on with the saga next week.
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.
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