We present an analysis of lava dome growth during the 2004–2008 eruption of Mount St. Helens using oblique terrestrial images from a network of remotely placed cameras. This underutilized monitoring tool augmented more traditional monitoring techniques, and was used to provide a robust assessment of the nature, pace, and state of the eruption and to quantify the kinematics of dome growth. Eruption monitoring using terrestrial photography began with a single camera deployed at the mouth of the volcano's crater during the first year of activity. Analysis of those images indicates that the average lineal extrusion rate decayed approximately logarithmically from about 8 m/d to about 2 m/d (± 2 m/d) from November 2004 through December 2005, and suggests that the extrusion rate fluctuated on time scales of days to weeks. From May 2006 through September 2007, imagery from multiple cameras deployed around the volcano allowed determination of 3-dimensional motion across the dome complex. Analysis of the multi-camera imagery shows spatially differential, but remarkably steady to gradually slowing, motion, from about 1–2 m/d from May through October 2006, to about 0.2–1.0 m/d from May through September 2007. In contrast to the fluctuations in lineal extrusion rate documented during the first year of eruption, dome motion from May 2006 through September 2007 was monotonic (± 0.10 m/d) to gradually slowing on time scales of weeks to months. The ability to measure spatial and temporal rates of motion of the effusing lava dome from oblique terrestrial photographs provided a significant, and sometimes the sole, means of identifying and quantifying dome growth during the eruption, and it demonstrates the utility of using frequent, long-term terrestrial photography to monitor and study volcanic eruptions.
Additional publication details
Monitoring lava-dome growth during the 2004-2008 Mount St. Helens, Washington, eruption using oblique terrestrial photography