November 22, 2005

Washington’s Mount Saint Helens stirs dust cloud

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A rock fall at Mount Saint Helens
caused a large gray cloud of dust to appear above the volcano
on Tuesday, but there was no sign of increased seismic

Seismic levels at Mount Saint Helens, which came back to
life last year by emitting steam and ash, are "amazingly
regular," said Seth Moran, a seismologist at the U.S.
Geological Survey.

Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 and killed 57 people and
was mostly dormant until September 2004, when new magma
activity pushed up a lava dome in the crater of the volcano
that also emitted steam and ash for weeks.

"This is the first rock fall that we've seen in a while,"
said Moran, who added that rock falls are a common occurrence

when a volcano builds a lava dome.

Moran said that clear weather and calm winds kept the dust
cloud hanging over the volcano Tuesday afternoon, making it
visible for miles.

Mount St. Helens is located in southwestern Washington
state, about 100 miles south of Seattle, and 50 miles

north of a busy airport at Portland, Oregon.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors Mount Saint
Helens from its Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver,
Washington, kept its alert status at its second-highest level.
No major eruptions are expected to be imminent.