G201 Mount Saint Helens Field Trip- alternative Assignment

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G201 Mount Saint Helens Field Trip- Alternative Assignment
Your good friend in the Highlands of Scotland has learned that Mount Saint Helens has “reawakened” and is worried sick that Mount Saint Helens will erupt and you will perish. Your friend is smart and curious but has never seen a volcano. Write your friend a letter explaining the current situation.

  • Your goal is to learn about the present and past volcanic activity at Mount Saint Helens and what hazards Mount Saint Helens posses to us in the future.

  • Use web and library resources to research this topic.

  • Relate what you have learned in a letter to your ‘friend’ using your own words.

  • Your letter should be typed double spaced and include an introduction and a conclusion.

  • Your letter should include illustrative figures which are referenced in the text and should include a bibliography.

  • In your letter make sure to explain the following points to your friend:

1. Volcano Behavior Describe how volcanoes erupt and the products of volcanic eruptions. Specific questions you should address are: What is the difference between effusive, explosive(pyroclastic) and phreatic eruptions? Describe the products created by each type of eruption. Make sure to clearly differentiate between a lava flow and a lava dome; between a pyroclastic flow and a lateral blast; and a lahar and a debris avalanche.
2. Mount Saint Helens Describe Mount Saint Helens as it is today. Specific questions you should address are: Where is Mount Saint Helens located? How large is Mount Saint Helens? What type of volcano is Mount Saint Helens? What are the main rivers which drain Mount Saint Helens? Where do they flow to? Are there glaciers on Mount Saint Helens; if so how many and how large?
3. Pre-1980 Eruptions Describe the geologic history of Mount Saint Helens. Specific questions you should address are: Has the eruption history of Mount Saint Helens been continuous or episodic? What are the major eruptive stages of Mount Saint Helens? When did they occur? How long did they last? What type of lava was erupted during each? Where the eruptions explosive or effusive? What methods have geologists used to unravel the geologic history of Mount Saint Helens?
4. 1980-1987 Activity Describe the events before, during and after the May 18th 1980 eruption. Specific questions you should address are: What was the first sign that Mount Saint Helens was entering an active period? What events occurred before the May 18th eruption? What events occurred during the May 18th eruption? What events occurred after the May 18th eruption? The May 18th eruption was a complex event! Make sure you describe the landslide, lateral blast, pyroclastic flows, tephra air falls and lahars associated with the eruption as well as the dome building following the eruption.
5. Recent Activity 2004 to present Describe the recent activity at Mount Saint Helens. Specific questions you should address are: What sort of activity has been taking place at Mount Saint Helens. How has the lava dome changed during this time? How has the lava dome interacted with the glaciers in the crater?
6. Hazards. Describe the hazards posed by Mount Saint Helens. Specific questions you should address are: How likely is Mount Saint Helens to erupt in the near future? What are the likely impacts of such an eruption in the vicinity of Mount Saint Helens? What are the likely impacts of an eruption on Portland? Will there be warning signs before the eruption occurs? What can be done to prepare for a future eruption now?

Suggested References
Your Text Book!
The current eruption web page at the Cascade Volcano Observatory

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network Volcano Page

USGS Fact Sheets:
What are Volcano Hazards?

Living with Volcanic Risk in the Cascades

Pre-1980 Eruptive History of Mount Saint Helens, Washington


Mount Saint Helens-From the 1980 Eruption to 2000

Mount Saint Helens Erupts Again


USGS Open File Report:

OFR 95-497 Volcanic-Hazard Zonation for Mount St. Helens, Washington, 1995

The following popular books contain chapters or sections on Mount Saint Helens:
Decker and Decker (1997) Volcanoes (3rd ed.), W.H. Freeman and Co.
Sieh and LeVay (1990) The Earth in Turmoil, W.H. Freeman and Co.
Thompson (2002) Volcano Cowboys, St. Martin's Griffin

And here are two field guides to Mount Saint Helens:

We will be traveling along Leg 2 of this on-line fieldtrip guide: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/NatMonument/RoadGuide/B1859_inlined.html
and along Leg A of the following excellent printed field guide:

Pringle (2002) Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity (revised ed.), Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 88.

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