GEOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF MOUNT ST. HELENS: 30 YEARS OF LEARNING.  Frederick J. Swanson, Pacific Northwest Research Station, US Forest Service, 3200 Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331; fswanson ‘at’ fs.fed.us

 

The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, was a globally-transformative event for volcanology, ecosystem science, and human engagement with volcanoes.  Public interest in the volcano, its ever-changing landscape, and the broader societal context tell us that, even after 30 years, this is a vibrant place for learning and teaching.  The 1980 and subsequent geophysical events have taught us a great deal about many poorly-known processes and deposits—the keys to understanding a volcano’s past eruptions and behavior. This set the stage for a new phase of growth in basic volcanology and its application at sites of volcanic unrest throughout the world, most notable through the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Disaster Assistance Program.  Technological advances made it possible obtain a near-real-time record of earthquakes, ground deformation, and gas emissions before, during, and after eruptions. Ecological responses to the physical processes have been stunning in their diversity, richness, and vigor across a range of meadow, forest, lake, and river environments.  In the human dimension, Mount St. Helens displaced, impoverished, and killed many people; but she has also inspired many – from grade school children to seasoned mountain scientists, poets, and philosophers.  Continuing geological, ecological, and humanities inquiry at Mount St. Helens constantly adds to the rich legacy of knowledge from this place.  Those of us who have had the good fortune to work at Mount St. Helens wish to encourage new work and new workers in this volcanic landscape; we have so much more to learn from this compelling teacher.