On May 17, 1980, North America was rocked when Mount St. Helens catastrophically erupted in Oregon. The explosion, which carried the power of 1,600 atomic bombs, killed 57 people including the research team that alerted local officials of an imminent eruption.
Now, almost 36 years later, the Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes within the Cascade mountains may be experiencing some of the same precursor signals that may have been warning signs to new activity. Since the start of 2016, there have been over 200 mini earthquakes, at varying depths and magnitudes, that volcanologists believe show that the sleeping giant may be recharging her magma shores.
Most of the reporting to-date has shown that these swarms are more business-as-usual for St. Helens. But for much of the Cascade volcanoes, things have been relatively silent since the 1890s. However, new swarms under Mt. Hood on the outskirts of Portland, show that the region is very much active.
For now, there is now cause for alarm, but we caught up with Dr. Erik Klemetti, Assistant Professor of Geosciences at Denison University and contributor to WIRED to discuss the recent activity and what we need to be on the lookout for to prepare for any type of imminent eruption.