Re: Where is Geology 401?

Glenn R. Morton (
Thu, 30 Apr 1998 20:36:17 -0500

At 08:42 AM 4/30/98 -0700, Greg Billock wrote:
>> Living about 70 miles NW of St. Helens and May 18th coming up brings back
>> some memories of 1980. I was watching a special on that mountain a couple
>> of days ago and during the narration it was said that none other active
>> volcano had been watched and monitored as much as this one.
>> Yet when it blew up, nobody had the slightest idea the mountain was going
>> to do that. Evenmore, the mountain had become 'stable' and quiet and many
>> observers had gone home thinking the worst was over.
>Really? Although I don't live there, this isn't the story I heard. I
>thought they had been evacuating everyone, and restricting access to the
>surrounding areas. (The story I heard was that some old guy up on the
>mountain just wouldn't evacuate, and said he'd rather be buried by lava than
>leave, which I guess he was.) I'd be surprised, though, if they knew
>to the day when it was going to erupt, but I don't know that I'd qualify
>that as not having the 'slightest idea.'

I am going to agree with Greg here. In 1980 I had offered a job to a guy
at the University of Washington and he had accepted. He called me the
Thursday before St. Helens blew. He was declining the job to remain up
there to study the mountain. He told me that he knew it was about to erupt
and he wanted to be there. He also told me that "over this weekend" he had
to go get some pictures from an automatic camera that he had on the
mountain which was his research. He was photoing the mountainside from up
on the mountain every few hours. He told me that he had photos showing a
huge expansion of the mountain from the pressure below. I wished him well
and we hung up.

When the mountain blew on Sunday and I heard there were casualties, I was
afraid that my friend was one of them. I called him on Monday. He had
helicoptered up to the mountain Saturday morning and changed his film as
rapidly as he could. He said the entire mountain was shaking like a leaf
that Saturday. He said he had never seen so much shaking before that day.

When I went back to Seattle, he showed me the photo from March superimposed
on the photo from May, the day before. The amount of expansion of the
mountainside was incredible. I hadn't thought that rock could be so flexible.

To conclude, they most assuredly did know it was about to explode. My
friend was scared to death of going to the mountain.

In another post Dario wrote:
>When I wrote that they didn't have the slightest idea, I was referring to
>the time the mountain erupted. As stated the people were leaving, many
>scientists went home thinking the show was over.

Can you document that? My friend thought it was going to blow and turned
down an offer for about 40k/year in 1980 to remain there. That is an
evidence of what HE expected.

And even later of geologists, Dario wrote:

>In like manner, they're not right about everything either.

here we agree. But then no human is right about everything and so what? If
not being right about everything makes us wrong about everything, then
unless you are perfect, you are also wrong about everything. One of course
must deal with each issue to try to determine truth.


Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information