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Magma Movement Reported at Mount St. Helens
2004 09 29

By Mitch Battros - ECTV
Chief scientist Jeff Wynn of the USGS Cascade Volcano Observatory made the following statement early this morning. “There seems to be some movement in the lava dome”.

The lava dome in Mount St. Helens' crater apparently is growing, possibly a new sign of an impending eruption, but a major explosion doesn't seem likely, a top volcano scientist said today. Wynn said the movement "sort of suggests that we're getting closer" to an eruption that could hurl rocks and ash a few thousand feet into the air.

As reported by KIRO News 7, chief scientist Jeff Wynn emphasized that the estimates were highly preliminary and inexact because there is only one measuring device on the dome, estimating scientists will need about 48 hours to interpret the data more clearly.

Scientists are trying to determine if the quakes are caused by steam from water seeping into the dome or by magma moving beneath the crater.

Early tests of gas samples collected above the volcano by helicopter Monday did not show unusually high levels of carbon dioxide or sulfur, which could indicate the movement of magma.

Seismologist George Thomas at the University of Washington said that on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the explosion at the mountain in 1980, the current activity would rate a one. Thomas said any rocks, ash or steam coming out of the volcano would most likely be contained within the crater itself.

"The alerts we're sending out are just to protect hikers and scientists doing research within the crater," he said.

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