Mount St. Helens waking up? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mount St. Helens waking up?

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Being one of the most well-monitored volcanoes on the planet, scientists pretty much know when an ant sneezes on top of Mount St. Helens, and apparently recent activity is a little more than a sneeze (and yes, I am aware that insects neither sneeze or cough. It was added for effect. In fact ants breathe through little holes in their sides called spiracles. But this isn't about the ability of ants to expel air out of their bodies. But in case you were wondering, I saved you a Google search.) 

Scientists monitoring Mount St. Helens say that a number of small magnitude earthquakes have been happening beneath the volcano since March 14, 2016. The earthquakes have low magnitudes of 0.5 or less, with the largest being a magnitude 1.3. Over the last 8 weeks, there have been more than 130 earthquakes formally located by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. Scientists say earthquake rates have been steadily increasing since March, reaching nearly 40 per week. 

But even if you were standing on the surface directly above them, the USGS says you wouldn't be able to feel them. So what are they? 

The USGS says the earthquakes are volcano-tectonic in nature, indicating a slip on a small fault. They think the magma chamber is likely imparting its own stresses on the crust around and above it as the "system slowly recharges." The stress of this process drives fluids through cracks, which they believe produce the small quakes. The current pattern of earthquakes are similar to some seen in 2013 and 2014. In the 1990s, recharge swarms had much higher earthquake rates and energy release.

So is an eruption going to happen? Probably not. The USGS says no anomalous gases, increases in ground inflation or shallow seismicity have been detected. Scientists say a recharge can continue for many years beneath a volcano without an eruption. 

You can follow activity updates for volcanoes HERE, and sign up to receive email through the Volcano Notification Service HERE

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