Mt. St. Helens Eruptions, a Photo Gallery

In this view, taken from the south, ash is settling on the west
slope after a small eruption. Click image for higher resolution view.

In late March of 1980, Mt. St. Helens came alive after a long slumber. Previous eruptions in past centuries had created a beautiful, symmetrical mountain. Little did I realize how dramatic the mountain's transformation, or should I say destruction, would be. This photo gallery provides photos of the early eruptions, of the symmetrical mountain that no longer exists. The next photo gallery, Mt. St. Helens Destruction, features photos of the destruction wrought by the May 18, 1980 eruption.

In this early morning view from the west, a lenticular cloud surrounding the peak is crowned with a small steam eruption. For two days, April 2 and 3, I photographed the early eruptions of Mt. St. Helens. Then the clouds covered the mountain, the vent sealed, and the pressure started building until the famous eruption of May 18 decapitated the peak.

The following four images are a series taken during one eruption, on the afternoon
of April 3, 1980.  The viewpoint is near Cougar, Washington, southwest of the peak along Highway 503.

Eruption of Mt. St. Helens
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The eruption began about 1:19 p.m., less than a half-hour after clouds cleared.  

Eruption of Mt. St. Helens
The event lasted about 15 minutes.

Eruption of Mt. St. Helens
In this view and the following view, note how the eruption cloud is stratifying, with steam rising and ash settling out, as the wind carries the eruption cloud towards the east.

Eruption of Mt. St. Helens

In the following series, the largest eruption before May 18th spewed steam and a heavy ash fall from 3:15 until 3:51. This event also enlarged the vent near the summit to about 100 yards.  Then clouds covered the mountain and the vent sealed.

Eruption of Mt. St. Helens
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NEXT PAGE: Mt. St. Helens Destruction

Read about all the Cascade volcanoes in my article: The Volcanoes of the Cascades:
Majestic and Perilous Natural Wonders Crown the Pacific Northwest Landscape

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All rights reserved. 2004 by James Q. Jacobs. Inquiries welcomed. Contact.

Stock Photography and Illustrations by James Q. Jacobs

Specializing in archaeology, ruins, rock art, and landscape photo stock and graphic design.
Focus areas include the Andes, Peru, Mexico, the American Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest.

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Mt. St. Helens