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United States Science

Mount St. Helens Alert Status Increased 600

DarkHand writes "Mount St. Helens has become even more unstable in the last few hours. The U.S. Geological Surveys Cascades Volcano Observatory has increased the volcanic alert around the volcano to level 2 and released a press release: 'Over night, seismic activity at Mount St. Helens has accelerated significantly, which increases our level of concern that current unrest could culminate in an eruption. We are increasing the alert level to the second of three levels [...]. Earthquakes are occurring at about four per minute. The largest events are approaching Magnitude 2.5 and they are becoming more frequent. All are still at shallow levels in and below the lava dome that grew in the crater between 1980 and 1986. This suggests that the ongoing intense earthquake activity has weakened the dome, increasing the likelihood of explosions or perhaps the extrusion of lava from the dome.' The most recent readings at the SEP seismograph stationed on the lava dome itself are totally saturated. The ground is now literally constantly rumbling."
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Mount St. Helens Alert Status Increased

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  • yarr (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @09:34AM (#10393563)
  • Re:/. pwns you (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @09:51AM (#10393773)
    Uhm, 10 minutes ago is *before* 9 minutes ago. Do I need to draw you a diagram?
  • by destiny71 ( 731278 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:29AM (#10395156) Journal
    And we want to tell these people why???

    It's the same reason I don't feel for anyone in the expensive beach houses in Florida. You have a thin stip of land jutting out into an ocean constantly active with hurricanes. Just like the rich people in California building stilt houses on the side of mountians in earthquake zones.

    People, this is why YOUR insurance premiums are so high! Rich people feel the need to build expensive houses in very unstable locations.
  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:39AM (#10395346) Homepage Journal
    There is a live motion web cam in nearby Stevenson, WA [] -- which was covered in a fairly thick layer of ash during the last eruption. It's low framerate but at least you can see updates at most every few seconds during bad periods. (Not including if it gets /.'ed of course.)

    PS: We installed a Qorvus Meshcam(tm) [] on the top of the Skamania County Government building as part of the Stevenson Wifi Project [], which was the first municiple public access mesh network to go live in the US.

  • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:43PM (#10396735)
    First of all...the Trojan nuclear reactor was not built on a volcano, it was built near one. In fact, it's about 75 miles away (an estimate, I don't have a map in front of me). As someone else noted, the shockwave was only significant for a radius of about 25 km. The pyroclastic flow went north (the wrong way) for about 20 km, following the low ground. Trojan is on the other side of the Columbia River in the middle of a big plain. Debris from the eruption is simply not a threat. Additionally, the containment building is designed to take a direct hit from a commercial airliner without threatening the integrity of the core or the heat exchanger. That probably really means something like a 1% chance of breach, but it still shows you that it's well built.

    Additionally, the Trojan reactor was not shut down due to the proximity of a fault and fear of earthquake damage, but due to an aging coolant system that would have cost $billions to rebuild. Admittedly it is an older design and there are safer options now, but my point is Mt. St. Helens does not threaten us with a nuclear disaster.

    The spent fuel rods are still there because some crazy people are convinced that they are safer sitting in a pool a couple hundred yards from the Columbia River than converted into a ceramic, encased in steel and concrete, and buried under Yucca mountain.

    I wish I could go hike up there, but other people tell me that would be stupid and now illegal, so I guess I'll have to settle for looking out the window.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:44PM (#10396752)
    God is allowing satan to demonstrate his way of government so that we may make an informed decision on who's side we will stand under.

    Pretty bad teaching system, don't you think? One would believe that an all-knowing, infinitely powerful, and infinitely good Being would have some nicer means to inform us of the facts.

  • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:08PM (#10397038)
    all-knowing, infinitely powerful, and infinitely good

    Heh, you brought up the the catch-22 in organized religion. If God is all of those things above, then how do we resolve the fact that people are allowed to suffer here on earth? How can a God who is all knowing, all powerful and all good even allow one soul to go to hell? Where is the grace in a God who lets those things happen?

    Always makes for interesting conversation with people who only repeat what others tell them without ever actually thinking about it.
  • by Inebrius ( 715009 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @04:46PM (#10398697)
    "Cowards. The plant at Diablo Canyon sits near to a few fault lines (about two miles away for the closest) and it still runs, even after recent quakes in the area including the San Simeon 6.5 quake last year."

    The San Simeon quake was much closer to Paso Robles - which is about 50 miles away. While it shook things, it never posed any real challenge to safety systems. In fact, the forces measured at the plant were low enough that the plant did not even experience an automatic reactor trip.

    Diablo Canyon was designed to safely handle a much higher magnitude quake from a much closer fault line (~7 mi away, Hosgri fault).

    There are fault lines all over the country. Parts of the US get tornadoes. Some parts are more susceptable to hurricanes.

    The recent earthquakes are certainly not a reason to shut down Diablo Canyon. Why do you think so? Or are you just using your fears or those of others to dictate a position that is wholly unsupported by any scientific or engineering information.

    Diablo Canyon produces over 2200 MW continuously 24-7, most of the time when not refueling. And the power is relatively cheap to produce. What would you propose as an alternative? More natural gas plants? More coal? Wind turbines? They aren't exactly environmentally friendly, if you are a bird. Solar? Neither wind nor solar are cheap nor reliable enough for baseload.

    Aside for there being no rational reason to shut down Diablo Canyon, the economics of replacement power do not make any sense.

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @05:26PM (#10399092) Homepage

    You're not thinking long-term - the cone of Mt. St. Helens was only a few tens of thousands of years old, it will rebuild itself in the next few millennia. In the meantime, sit back and watch the mountain heal itself.

    That's small consolation to someone who won't be alive 10,000 years from now, and is mourning the loss of some pretty scenery.

  • by mikerich ( 120257 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:06PM (#10399425)
    That's small consolation to someone who won't be alive 10,000 years from now, and is mourning the loss of some pretty scenery.

    Well speaking as a geologist I always find that when you think in terms of geological time so many other problems - the bank, work, Dubya - all fall into perspective. That scenery has been changed time and time again. It's inevitable that this will go on.

    The people of Washington are getting a chance to see how their planet formed. In a couple of decades whole new forests will be established, there will be new mountain meadows and all the time a new mountain will be growing. Fantastic!

    Take the kids and go look in awe at Mount St. Helens, show them that Nature isn't just wallpaper, its always changing.

    And as a Brit - I'm thoroughly jealous that the US has volcanoes and we don't...

    Best wishes,

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:18PM (#10399502) Homepage
    If you are a 100% omnipotent and omnipresent being, then there is zero difference between predicting something and planning something. You can cause anything you like to occur, and you can stop anything you like from occurring. Therefore everything that happens happens with your blessing and approval.
  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:21PM (#10399521) Homepage
    The problem is that when a believer says they don't have any hope of understanding god's plan, I never seem them act like they really mean it. If they really meant that, then it would be *just* as wrong to claim (for example) that god is all good, just as wrong as it would be to claim that god is doing evil by letting evil exist. If you don't know god's mind, then you can't say god is good. You just don't know.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson