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Impact of Mount St. Helens eruption on hydrology and water qualityThe 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens in southeast Washington resulted in a pronounced effect on the surface and ground water resources of the state. In response to the volcanic activity, the U.S. Geological Survey intensified statewide surface and ground water sampling programs to determine the nature and magnitude of the volcanic-induced variations. Streams to the east of Mount St. Helens received the major ash fallout. Chemical effects were best noted in smaller streams sampled 60 to 70 miles northeast of Mount St. Helens. The chemical variations observed were pronounced but short lived. Sulfate and chloride increases in anionic composition were prevalent immediately following the eruption; however, the original bicarbonate predominance was again attained within several days. Suspended iron and aluminum concentrations were similarly elevated during the period of greatest ash deposition (highest turbidity); however, the dissolved concentrations remained relatively constant. Depressions of pH were minor and short lived. Streams draining to the south, tributaries to the Columbia river, showed little observable changes in water chemistry. Streams draining to the west (Toutle river and its tributaries) were compositionally affected by the various volcanic activities. Chloride and sulfate anion percentage exceeded the bicarbonate percentage up to one month following the eruption period. Streams and lakes sampled in the immediate vicinity of Mount St. Helens, in addition to trace metals, contained organic compounds derived from decomposing wood buried in the debris deposits. This organic material may constitute a significant source of organic compounds to surface and ground water for some time to come.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Bonelli, J. E. (Geological Survey Arvada, CO, United States)
Taylor, H. E. (Geological Survey Arvada, CO, United States)
Klein, J. M. (Geological Survey Arvada, CO, 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.

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