Public statements about volcanic activity at Mount St. Helens include factual statements, forecasts, and predictions. A factual statement describes current conditions but does not anticipate future events. A forecast is a comparatively imprecise statement of the time, place, and nature of expected activity. A prediction is a comparatively precise statement of the time, place, and ideally, the nature and size of impending activity. A prediction usually covers a shorter time period than a forecast and is generally based dominantly on interpretations and measurements of ongoing processes and secondarily on a projection of past history. The three types of statements grade from one to another, and distinctions are sometimes arbitrary. Forecasts and predictions at Mount St. Helens became increasingly precise from 1975 to 1982. Stratigraphic studies led to a long-range forecast in 1975 of renewed eruptive activity at Mount St. Helens, possibly before the end of the century. On the basis of seismic, geodetic and geologic data, general forecasts for a landslide and eruption were issued in April 1980, before the catastrophic blast and landslide on 18 May 1980. All extrusions except two from June 1980 to the end of 1984 were predicted on the basis of integrated geophysical, geochemical, and geologic monitoring. The two extrusions that were not predicted were preceded by explosions that removed a substantial part of the dome, reducing confining pressure and essentially short-circuiting the normal precursors. ?? 1985.
Additional Publication Details
Forecasts and predictions of eruptive activity at Mount St. Helens, USA: 1975-1984