Mount St. Helens Active Geological Laboratory -- By: Robert Goette

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 04:1 (Winter 1991)
Article: Mount St. Helens Active Geological Laboratory
Author: Robert Goette


Mount St. Helens
Active Geological Laboratory

Robert Goette

    Picture 1:

Taken August 28, 1990, from Bear Meadow, 10 miles from Mount St. Helens and looking into the crater left by the May 18, 1980, explosion.

The Explosion And Aftermath

On May 18th 1980, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1 occured at Mount St. Helens, precipitating an avalanche of more than one-half cubic mile of rock and ice down the north face. (This face had been expanding upward at the rate of 5 feet a day for several weeks and by then had bulged 320 feet.) Observers reported that the north face appeared to ripple and then “liquefy.” Inside the volcano, superheated water flashed to steam, like popping the top off a warm soda bottle. The eruption was equal to 20 million tons of TNT, blowing 1300 feet off the top of Mount St. Helens [Picture 1]. The resulting crater, 1 mile wide, 2 miles long and 2000 feet deep amounted to 12% of the mountain being blasted away—the largest rock slide witnessed by modern man. There was a lateral blast of ash-laden air heated to 500º C (or 932º F) moving out at a speed of up to 200 mph. The blast violently spread a 20-mile halo of death in its suffocating, ground hugging flow. When the lateral blast died down, a gigantic mushroom cloud 95 miles in diameter and 30 miles high rose up to the stratosphere.

This volcanic blast, and the following events associated with it, challenges our thinking about how the earth’s surface developed to what we observe today. That is, how it was formed, how it changes, the time frame we have to work with, and how the geological strata developed.

Need For A New Geological Timetable

The evolutionary geologic column or table, seen in most earth science texts, implies that millions of years were necessary for the formation of fossil-bearing sedimentary layers. This article will examine some of the evidence from the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and following events, all of which indicate that large-scale geological changes can happen very rapidly. Some have called this eruption “the greatest geologic event in this decade.” Much of the material in this article is based on the work of geologists, Dr. Steven Austin,1 Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and Harold G. Coffin.2 Geoscience Research institute.

Four significant discoveries at Mount St. Helens will be examined: (1) rapidly-formed stratification, (2) rapid erosion, (3) upright-deposited logs, and (4) a peat layer i...

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