Mount St. Helens, the most recently active and most intensively studied Cascades volcano, is in southwestern Washington. The volcano is a superb outdoor laboratory for studying volcanic processes, deposits of observed events, and deposits whose origins are inferred by classic geologic techniques, including analogy to recent deposits. During the past 4,500 years, Mount St. Helens has been more active and more explosive than any other volcano in the conterminous United States.
Mount St. Helens became active in mid-March 1980, and eruptive activity began on March 27. Since the climactic eruption of May 18, 1980, the volcano has continued to be active at least until 1988. The 1890 activity of Mount St. Helens is summarized in U.S. Geological Survey Professional Papers 1249 and 1250.
This road guide is a tour of Mount St. Helens volcano and vicinity, with emphasis on the effects and deposits of the 1980 eruption. The road log starts from the U.S. Geological Survey's David A. Johnston Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington. The guide is organized around two primary routes. LEG I is on paved and gravel roads from Vancouver to areas east of Mount St. Helens, including Windy Ridge Overlook near Spirit Lake. This is possibly the most scenic route described in the guide, including a transect of the devastated zone of May 18, 1980, Spirit Lake, and numerous vistas of the volcano. LEG II leads to areas west of the volcano from Vancouver via U.S. Interstate Highway 5, then on a paved ... road along the Toutle River. Highlights include the spectacular effects of mudflows and a view of the huge debris-avalanche deposit that was formed on May 18, 1980.