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Sun May 18, 2014, 08:30 AM

Looking beneath Mount St. Helens


Teams of researchers and an army of volunteers will work to get a deep — very deep — understanding of the mechanics of the volcano

Looking beneath Mount St. Helens
Staff writer May 18, 2014

Ever since Mount St. Helens’ cataclysmic eruption 34 years ago Sunday, scientists have been tracking the volcano’s explosive energy to better understand how Washington’s most active volcano works.

This summer, the scientists will be the ones setting off the explosions.

Using techniques developed by the oil industry, researchers are preparing to set off explosive charges buried in two dozen 80-foot-deep wells drilled around the mountain. They’ll record the seismic energy of the explosions on thousands of portable seismometers placed by an army of volunteers traveling by car, on foot and on horseback.

Their goal is to see with greater clarity the details of how molten rock, or magma, makes its way to St. Helens’ crater from the area where tectonic plates collide and the magma is created, some 60 miles beneath the surface.

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