Mount St. Helens and Catastrophism
by Steven A. Austin, Ph.D.
Presented at the First International Conference on Creationism, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 4–9, 1986. Published in: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, R. S. Crowell, editor), pp. 3–9, 1986.
© 1986 Creation Science Fellowship, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. All Rights Reserved.
The explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington State on May 18, 1980 was initiated by an earthquake and rockslide involving one half cubic mile of rock. As the summit and north slope slid off the volcano that morning, pressure was released inside the volcano where super-hot liquid water immediately flashed to steam. The northward-directed steam explosion released energy equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT which toppled 150 square miles of forest in six minutes. In Spirit Lake north of the volcano, an enormous water wave initiated by one eighth cubic mile of rockslide debris stripped trees from slopes as much as 850 feet above the pre-eruption water level. The total energy output on May 18 was equivalent to 400 million tons TNT, approximately 20,000 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs.
Mount St. Helens, Catastrophism, Rapid Erosion, Mudflows, Spirit Lake
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