(excert from)

The Eruptive History of Mount St. Helens

by Donal R. Mullineaux and Dwight R. Crandell


ABSTRACT

The eruptive history of Mount St. Helens began about 40,000 years ago with dacitic volcanism, which continued intermittently until about 2,500 yr ago. This activity included numerous explosive eruptions over periods of hundreds to thousands of yr, which were separated by apparent dormant intervals ranging in length from a few hundred to about 15,000 yr. The range of rock types erupted by the volcano changed about 2,500 yr ago, and since then, Mount St. Helens repeatedly has produced lava flows of andesite, and on at least two occasions, basalt. Other eruptions during the last 2,500 yr produced dacite and andesite pyroclastic flows and lahars, and dacite, andesite, and basalt airfall tephra. Lithologic successions of the last 2,500 yr include two sequences of andesite-dacite-basalt during the Castle Creek period, and dacite-andesite-dacite during both the Kalama and Goat Rocks periods. Major dormant intervals of the last 2,500 yr range in length from about 2 to 7 centuries.

During most eruptive periods, pyroclastic flows and lahars built fans of fragmental material around the base of the volcano and partly filled valleys leading away from Mount St. Helens. Most pyroclastic flows terminated with 20 km of the volcano, but lahars extended down some valleys at least as far as 75 km. Fans of lahars and pyroclastic flows on the north side of the volcano dammed the North Fork Toutle River to form the basin of an ancestral Spirit Lake between 3,300 and 4,000 yr ago during the Smith Creek eruptive period, and again during the following Pine Creek eruptive period.

Continue to ERUPTIVE PERIODS AT MOUNT ST. HELENS

Return to Index

Return To:

Education Main



Back To VolcanoWorld Home