Avalanche of change

Mount St. Helens 20 years after the eruption

When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, it set off an enormous avalanche, spewed out deadly hot steam, and buried a vast area with volcanic rock and ash, violently shattering its 123-year ’slumber.’ Ecologists used this once in a life-time chance to discover how ecosystems respond to such a natural disturbance.

The symposium “Ecological Recovery After the 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens” will reveal how the surrounding landscape, including forests, soils, steams, lakes, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals have fared in the ensuing two decades.

“The eruption highlights the importance of factors such as chance events, life history characteristics, and timing and confirms the surprising resilience of nature,” says symposia organizer Virginia Dale (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

Dale will kick off the session with her presentation “Is succession successful? Synthesis and management implications of ecological recovery at Mount St. Helens.” She will provide an overview of survival, colonization, and community development among the six disturbance zones the eruption generated: pyroclastic flows, debris avalanche, mudflows, blown-down trees, scorched vegetation, and ash deposition.

Frederick Swanson (US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station) will focus on the most intense aspects of the eruption, such as landslides and 800 degree Celsius heat of pyroclastic flows and the ways in which they altered the landscape. His talk “Geological and ecological settings of Mount St. Helens before and after May 18, 1980” will describe the link between the reshaped geophysical landscape and the plants and animals living on it.

The session will also delve under the surface in “Life in the changing belowground during succession on Mount St. Helens,” which will be presented by Michael Allen (University of California-Riverside). Allen will highlight the dynamic interactions between plants, fungi, and animals as they collectively drive the changes occurring on this disturbed landscape.

Other speakers in the session will address the status of plants in the area’s old growth forests as well as the roles of insects, mammals, and birds in reconstructing the environment post-eruption.

The dramatic transformation of Spirit Lake as well as the eruption’s consequences on fish and amphibians will be addressed by Charlie Crisafulli (US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station). Among his findings: river fishes, that originally suffered high mortality have rebounded remarkably in many cases and several amphibians species have colonized new ponds that the blast created.

Media Contact

Annie Drinkard EurekAlert!

Further information:

http://www.esa.org/portland

All news from this category: Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

This complex theme deals primarily with interactions between organisms and the environmental factors that impact them, but to a greater extent between individual inanimate environmental factors.

innovations-report offers informative reports and articles on topics such as climate protection, landscape conservation, ecological systems, wildlife and nature parks and ecosystem efficiency and balance.

Back to the Homepage

Comments (0)

Write comment

Latest posts

Researchers confront optics and data-transfer challenges with 3D-printed lens

Researchers have developed new 3D-printed microlenses with adjustable refractive indices – a property that gives them highly specialized light-focusing abilities. This advancement is poised to improve imaging, computing and communications…

Research leads to better modeling of hypersonic flow

Hypersonic flight is conventionally referred to as the ability to fly at speeds significantly faster than the speed of sound and presents an extraordinary set of technical challenges. As an…

Researchers create ingredients to produce food by 3D printing

Food engineers in Brazil and France developed gels based on modified starch for use as “ink” to make foods and novel materials by additive manufacturing. It is already possible to…

Partners & Sponsors

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close