Mount St. Helens eruption anniversary marked by images of recovery
Friday, May 18, 2012 - 01:31
May 18 - It's been 32 years since Mount St. Helens erupted in the north-western U.S. state of Washington and, to mark the anniversary, NASA has produced a time-lapse sequence of images illustrating how life around the mountain has recovered. The images were taken by NASA's Landsat satellites, starting in 1979 just before the mountain exploded. Kilmeny Duchardt reports.
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On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helen's erupted in an explosion of hot ash and gas, expelling debris over 230 square miles. The eruption killed 57 people and caused more than a billion dollars worth of property damage. Entire forests were flattened and river systems altered by the event.
32 years later, an animated time-lapse video using images from NASA satellites from 1979 to 2011, chronicles the destruction and recovery.
When the volcano blows her top in 1980, the surrounding vegetation is shown in red . Early satellites couldn't detect blue light, but in 1984, technology improved to show color.
The beige divot-like patches show logging on the mountain both before and after the eruption.
Spirit Lake to the northeast has grown larger since the eruption, its outlet into the North Fork Toutle River blocked by debris. The construction of a diversionary tunnel for the water becomes necessary to prevent devastating floods downstream.
Scientists say the data from these and other satellites are instrumental to understanding environmental trends and how land recovers after a natural disaster.
Kilmeny Duchardt, Reuters.
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