History of the United States

History of the United States – Volcanic Eruption

Mount St. Helens

On May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption occurred at Mount St. Helens, a volcano located in Skamania County, in the State of Washington. It has often been declared as the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history. The eruption was preceded by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes, caused by an injection of magma at shallow depth below the volcano that created a large bulge and a fracture system on the mountain’s north slope.



History of the United States – Volcanic Eruption

On May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook Mount St. Helens. The bulge and surrounding area slid away in a gigantic rockslide and debris avalanche, releasing pressure, and triggering a major pumice and ash eruption of the volcano. Thirteen-hundred feet (400 meters) of the peak collapsed or blew outwards. As a result, 24 square miles (62 square kilometers) of valley was filled by a debris avalanche, 250 square miles (650 square kilometers) of recreation, timber, and private lands were damaged by a lateral blast, and an estimated 200 million cubic yards (150 million cubic meters) of material was deposited directly by lahars (volcanic mudflows) into the river channels. Fifty-seven people were killed or are still missing. USGS Photograph taken on May 18, 1980, by Austin Post.
By Austin Post, scanned photograph by USGS, cleaned by and adjusted by carol – Huge tif converted to jpeg and caption fromUSGS Mount St. Helens, WashingtonMay 18, 1980 Eruption Images, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3157557

Robert Emerson Landsburg


Robert Emerson Landsburg (November 13, 1931 – May 18, 1980) was an American photographer who was killed while photographing the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Landsburg was born in Seattle, Washington, and lived in Portland, Oregon, at the time of the eruption. In the weeks leading up to the eruption, Landsburg visited the area many times in order to photographically document the changing volcano. On the morning of May 18, he was within a few miles of the summit. When the mountain exploded, Landsburg took photos of the rapidly approaching ash cloud. He then rewound the film back into its case, put his camera in his backpack, and then laid himself on top of the backpack in an attempt to protect its contents. Seventeen days later, Landsburg’s body was found buried in the ash with his backpack underneath. The film was developed and has provided geologists with valuable documentation of the historic eruption. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Landsburg

Danial Dzurisin – CVO Archives Mount St. Helens, Washington May 18, 1980 Devastation Images
Car after Mount St. Helens 1980 Eruption. Reid Blackburn’s (photographer, National Geographic, Vancouver Columbian) car, about 10 miles from Mount St. Helens.

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