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USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington

Cascade Range Current Update

U.S. Geological Survey, Vancouver, Washington
University of Washington, Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network, Seattle, Washington

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 09:42 PDT (Wednesday, September 13, 2006 16:42 UTC)


Current status is Volcano Advisory (Alert Level 2 ) Aviation color code ORANGE : Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continues, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash. During such eruptions, changes in the level of activity can occur over days to months. The eruption could intensify suddenly or with little warning and produce explosions that cause hazardous conditions within several miles of the crater and farther downwind. Small lahars could suddenly descend the Toutle River if triggered by heavy rain or by interaction of hot rocks with snow and ice. These lahars pose a negligible hazard below the Sediment Retention Structure (SRS) but could pose a hazard along the river channel upstream.

Potential ash hazards: Wind forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coupled with eruption models, show that any ash clouds rising above the crater rim today would drift eastsoutheastward.

Potential ash hazards to aviation: Under current eruptive conditions, small, short-lived explosions may produce ash clouds that exceed 30,000 feet in altitude. Ash from such events can travel 100 miles or more downwind.

Recent observations: The extrusion of the new lava dome continues unabated, despite relatively low seismicity levels. Views from the US Forest Service web camera at the Johnston Ridge Observatory are clear this morning and show a dusty day in the crater owing to minor rockfalls from the crater walls and the growing lava dome. Occasional larger rockfalls may produce ash clouds large enough to be visible from the Portland area.

The U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington continue to monitor the situation closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level as warranted.

For additional information, background, images, and other graphics:

For seismic information:

For a definition of alert levels:

For a webcam view of the volcano:

Telephone recordings with the latest update on Mount St. Helens and phone contacts for additional information can be heard by calling: (360) 891-5180.


All other volcanoes in the Cascade Range are all at normal levels of background seismicity. These include Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams in Washington State; Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Crater Lake, in Oregon; and Medicine Lake, Mount Shasta, and Lassen Peak in northern California.

USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network at the University of Washington, and the USGS Northern California Seismic Network and Volcano Hazards Team in Menlo Park, California, monitor the major volcanoes in the Cascade Range of northern California, Oregon, and Washington.

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12/20/04, Lyn Topinka
10/21/06, Dina Venezky