WA's Mt. St. Helens hit with hundreds of mini earthquakes

Over the past couple of days, you may have seen headlines asking if Mt. St. Helens is about to erupt. It comes after the area saw hundreds of recent earthquakes.

Data shows that around 350 earthquakes have rattled the stratovolcano since February 1, 2024.

350 earthquakes that were located at Mount St. Helens between February 1 to June 17, 2024

via USGS

Most of these quakes were too small to be felt though, even atop Mt. St. Helens.

But according to Weston Thelen, a research seismologist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory, the volcano is recharging.

He explains it as pieces of magma coming into the crustal magma chamber and creating a change in pressure, which causes the activity happening near Mt. St. Helens.

"Thus far we haven’t seen a change in the shape of the volcano, either inflating or deflating, and we haven’t seen any changes in gas output," Thelen said. "There's no reason to be alarmed."

This same type of activity was also seen from July to December of last year.


Tracking volcanic activity in WA 44 years after Mount Saint Helens erupted

Saturday, May 18 marks 44 years since Mt. St. Helens erupted. Since then, the state has made big strides in tracking activity on Washington’s volcanoes.

The last time Mt. St. Helens had a significant event was in 2004 to 2008, when there was a dome forming eruption.

"There were other periods of recharge that had more earthquakes, bigger earthquakes that lasted for longer in the 80s and 90s, and we can really lean on those types of events to give us context about what we’re seeing now," Thelen said.

But it's the 1980 eruption that many people remember, as it claimed the lives of 57 people and spewed ash across western Washington. Seismologists don't expect this type of eruption to happen any time soon.

"The next eruption is not imminent, these earthquakes aren’t telling us that something is about to happen up there," Thelen said.

Thelen adds that researchers are being extra vigilant with how they’re monitoring the volcano, staying open-minded to new signals that could change their assessment.


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