Mount St. Helens has been a prolific source of tephra-fall deposits for about 40 000 years. These tephra deposits (1) record numerous explosive eruptions, (2) form important regional time-stratigraphic marker beds, and (3) record repeated changes in composition within and between eruptive periods. Recognized tephra strata record more than 100 explosive eruptive events at Mount St. Helens; those tephra strata are classified as beds, layers, and sets. Tephra sets, each of which consists of a group of beds and layers, define in part the nine eruptive periods recognized at the volcano. Individual tephra sets are distinguished from stratigraphically adjacent sets by differences in composition or by evidence of clapsed time. Several tephra units from Mount St. Helens form important marker beds at distances of hundreds of kilometers downwind from the volcano. Cummingtonite phenocrysts, which are known in ejecta from only Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest, characterize some marker beds and readily identify their source. The tephra sequence also records eruption of the mafic andesites that mark the appearance of the modern Mount St. Helens and numerous changes in composition among dacite, basalt, and andesite since that time. ?? 1986 Springer-Verlag.
Additional publication details
Summary of pre-1980 tephra-fall deposits erupted from Mount St. Helens, Washington State, USA