Experts have confirmed that magma is slowly building up within Mount St. Helens. However, the USGS also says that an eruption is very unlikely in the near future.
Mount St. Helens is an active volcano in the vicinity of Skamania Country in Washington. The volcano last erupted in May 18, 1980 causing the deaths of 57 people. Due to the death toll, the last Mount St. Helens eruption is considered as the deadliest eruption in the history of the U.S. Aside from the loss of life, the eruption also caused widespread destruction in the immediate area with over 250 houses and various local infrastructures destroyed. Since the last eruption, geologists have been keeping a close eye on the volcano.
While experts from the Seismological Society of America and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have dismissed rumors of a possible eruption, magma continues to seep up from deep within the Earth. Geologists say that magma has started to build up around 2.5 to 3 miles under Mount Saint Helens back in 2008. Due to the building pressure, the volcano is gradually growing and geologists have confirmed that Mount St. Helens is now around a fingertip's length taller and wider.
"Analysis of current behavior at Mount St. Helens indicates that the volcano remains active and is showing signs of long-term uplift and earthquake activity, but there are no signs of impending eruption," says the Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) of the USGS.
Since the magma buildup was detected six years ago, the USGS has been monitoring the re-pressurization of the volcano. Moreover, scientists are also closely monitoring the ground deformation in the area to keep tabs on the volcano's seismic activity.
"This is to be expected while Mount St. Helens is in an active period, as it has been since 1980, and it does not indicate that the volcano is likely to erupt anytime soon. Re-pressurization of a volcano's magma reservoir is commonly observed at other volcanoes that have erupted recently, and it can continue for many years without an eruption," says the USGS.
A joint-effort between the USGS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) will also be sending a team to gather more information about the volcano this coming summer. In total, two surveys have been scheduled and the teams will be monitoring the volcanic gasses being emitted by the volcano as well of the intensity of the volcano's gravity field. These two measurements are vital to gauging both the depth and the amount of magma building up inside Mount St. Helens.