|Chapter 7 Current Issues: Mount St. Helens|
On the morning of May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted and destroyed more than 200 square miles of forest and spread ash across Washington State. According to scientists, 520 million tons of ash were blown east across the United States. The skies over many cities in the state were dark in the middle of the day. Fifty-seven humans and thousands of animals were killed.
During the more than 20 years since this major eruption, thousands of visitors have traveled to visitor sites near Mount St. Helens. During the last year, however, the mountain has again become active.
Imagine your teacher is planning a camping trip near Mount St. Helens. With a partner research to determine whether camping near this volcano is a safe plan. Begin your research at the site of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument at http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/
Next, visit the U.S. Geologic Service at http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/framework.html
Read about the volcano's recent activity. Find out about the warning signs of the 1980 eruption. Read about what makes volcanoes erupt. Learn why a trip to the mountain would-or would not-be safe.
With your partner and other classmates, brainstorm a list of questions to be answered in order to decide about the safety of this field trip. When you've gathered enough information to answer your questions, write a letter to your teacher encouraging or discouraging him or her about the trip. Think and write carefully; your safety and that of your classmates in your hands!