NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
The 18 May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens: The nature of the eruption, with an atmospheric perspectiveMount St. Helens erupted somewhat less than 0.5 cu km of magma (dense rock equivalent) on May 18, 1980. The May 18 event was usually violent. As much 35% of the volume of the airfall material fell outside of the 2.5 mm isopach, which encloses about 88,000 sq km. This extraordinary dispersive power was transmitted by an eruption column which reached heights of more than 20 km. There was a lateral blast (or surge) of unusually large dimensions associated with the onset of the eruption. The magma is dacitic in composition and had a low ( 500 ppm) sulfur content. Distal ashes contain much nonmagmatic (lithic) material, but smaller ( 50 microns m) particles are mostly finely divided magmatic dacite. The grain size distributions of the ash are multimodal, frequently with peaks at 90, 25, and 10 microns. The finer populations fell out faster than their terminal velocities as simple particles would suggest. It is inferred that large proportions of the fine ash fell out as composite particles. This condition greatly reduces the atmospheric burden of silicate particles. Some of the unusual aspects (violence, intense surges, multimodal grain size distributions, lithic content of the ashes) of the eruption may be due to its phreatomagmatic character. The hydrothermal system above the magma may have infiltrated the magma body at the onset of the eruption. An "overprint" of the geochemistry of this hydrothermal system on the geochemistry of the magmatic gas system is likely. One important feature is that reduced gas species may be much more abundant than in many eruptions. Another is that fine ash may form aggregates more readily.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Rose, W. I., Jr. (Michigan Technological Univ. Houghton, MI, United States)
Hoffman, M. F. (Michigan Technological Univ. Houghton, MI, United States)
Date Acquired
August 11, 2013
Publication Date
October 1, 1982
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Langley Research Center Atmospheric Effects and Potential Climatic Impact of the 1980 Eruptions of Mt. St. Helens
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Related Records

IDRelationTitle19830003264Analytic PrimaryAtmospheric Effects and Potential Climatic Impact of the 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens
Document Inquiry