In the past 24 hours or so, national news outlets and local media outlets in Washington and Oregon have been reporting on activity at Mount St. Helens.

There Has Been 'Hundreds of Tiny Earthquakes" is reporting that there have been "hundreds of tiny earthquakes since February." Living in Montana and our proximity to the Yellowstone caldera, we're aware that volcanic features regularly produce small earthquakes. While the size is not concerning according to the USGS (the earthquakes are so small they can't be felt), the quakes may indicate that Mount St. Helens is "recharging."

The Volcano is "Recharging"

The word "recharging" may instill some anxiety but according to, the USGS says "recharging" is just a process when magma accumulates. It's also not unique to this volcano.

Mount St. Helens May Not Erupt

In an interview with The Hill, the Cascades Volcano Observatory said, "No significant changes have been observed...and there is no change in alert levels at the time." So while there is activity happening, it doesn't mean there will be an eruption.

But If It Did, It Might Be a lot like 1980

The USGS published ash cloud simulations last fall. The GIFs show what it would look like if there were a large eruption, a moderate eruption, and a small eruption. As they note, these are not official forecasts but the images give an idea of how much ash there might be in the atmosphere. They also note: "This model DOES NOT show ash fallout."

Large Eruption (watch the simulation here). 

Ash cloud simulations
Credit: USGS

Moderate Eruption (watch the simulation here). 

Ash cloud simulations
Credit: USGS

Small Eruption (watch the simulation here).

Ash cloud simulation
Credit: USGS

If it does erupt again, it does look like in these scenarios, though it's not guaranteed, there's a good chance Montana will be in the path of the ash clouds.

Looking at Mount St. Helens Over the Years

A photo gallery looking at Mount St. Helens from 2000 to today.

Gallery Credit: Aj Brewster

10 Facts About Mount St. Helens

Gallery Credit: Kyle Matthews

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