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Although the precise course of volcanic activity is difficult to predict, volcanologists are pretty adept at interpreting volcanic signals from well-monitored volcanoes in order to make short-term forecasts. Various monitoring tools record effects to give us warning before eruptions, changes in eruptive behavior during eruptions, or signals that an eruption is ending. Foremost among these tools is seismic monitoring. The character, size, depth and rate of earthquakes are all important to the interpretation of what is happening belowground. The first inkling of renewed activity at Mount St. Helens began in the early hours of Sept. 23, when a seismic swarm - tens to hundreds of earthquakes over days to a week - began beneath the volcano. This article details the obervations made during the eruptive sequence.
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Monitoring a restless volcano: The 2004 eruption of Mount St. Helens