The eruption of mount st helens on may 18 1980 was the most catastrophic and deadly volcanic event ever experienced in the united states that event had the force of thousands of atom bombs and destroyed 234 square miles of forestland. The fish in spirit lake north of mount st helens all perished during the eruption and so much volcanic debris slid into the lake that its bottom was raised 200 feet 60 m. On may 18 1980 an earthquake struck below the north face of mount st helens in washington state triggering the largest landslide in recorded history and a major volcanic eruption that . Prior to 1980 mount st helens had the shape of a conical youthful volcano sometimes referred to as the mount fuji of america during the 1980 eruption the upper 400 m 1300 ft of the summit was removed by a huge debris avalanche leaving a 2 x 35 km 12 x 22 mi horseshoe shaped crater now partially filled by a lava dome and a glacier. Mount st helens from monitor ridge showing the cone of devastation the huge crater open to the north the post eruption lava dome inside and crater glacier surrounding the lava dome the small photo on the left was taken from spirit lake before the eruption and the small photo on the right was taken after the eruption from approximately the same place
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