STEPHEN & DONNA O'MEARA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEPHEN & DONNA O'MEARA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Eruption caused by the collapse of part of the new lava dome growing inside the crater of Mount St. Helens, a stratovolcano 96 miles south of Seattle Washington. This activity is part of a new dome-building cycle that began on September 23, 2004. The new dacitic lava dome is growing on the existing domes south side. During these events, the edges of the very hot but fragile lava crumble rapidly, forming loose material around the new dome. At times, new surface is being added at a rate of about 2 to 3 cubic meters a second, enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in about 15 minutes. If the growth of the new dome continues at its current pace, the new dome could replace the amount of material lost in the 1980 eruption (estimated at 3.7 billion cubic yards, or 2.85 billion cubic meters) within the next 40-50 years. Photographed August 7, 2005.
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