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It was once thought that volcanic eruptions were the result of water moving into highly heated area of the earth That not true any more More recently with the better understanding of the movement of the earths crust plates known as plate tectonics has been accepted as generating the energy that causes a volcanic eruption Microsoft Encarta Volcanoes form at the site of 2 kind of plate boundaries The convergent plate plunges under another divergent plate The lower plate is drawn down to a depth at which it becomes molten or a liquid hot magma This magma is always flowing like a rivers current But sometimes the crust and the upper mantle are not always even if rising magma gets though a gap crack or weakness between the 2 plates a volcanic eruption forms Scientists call these plate marginsMt St Helens was considered to be in a long state of dormancy one that lasted 123 years Usually after a long state of dormancy the eruption is very violent Scientists were aware of activity before the eruption but did not have any documented experience at that point to predict the exact magnitude of the eruption At 348 pm March 20 1980 seismographs in Seattle Newport and Washington all registered an earthquake 20 miles north of Mt St Helens The news was largely ignored in the press but it did catch the attention of the United States Geographical Service Volcanologists Geologists said it was just a burp But one week later on March 27 the volcano made itself known with an explosion of ash and steam It is one of the greatest volcanic explosions ever recorded in North America The pressure from the magma causes extensive fissures and a bulge on the north side of the peakOn May 18th an earthquake caused a gigantic landslide on the north side of the mountain The slope gave away an avalanche followed with a side blast that caused mudflows pyroclastic
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