PORTLAND – Magma levels inside Mount St. Helens are on the rise, according to federal scientists.
Wednesday, officials said super-heated liquid rock has been percolating up inside Mount St. Helens for years and they don’t know if an eruption is far off or close at hand.
Scientists have found that over the last five years, several points around the mountain, including Johnston Ridge Observatory, are moving upward and back away from the crater. Johnston ridge moved around half an inch over that time.
Researchers have 20 seismometers on or around the mountain and are able to calculate small movements. Overall, the area is bulging, indicating that magma is building in a chamber five miles below the surface.
U.S. Geological Survey vulcanologist Seth Moran will spoke at a press conference Wednesday to discuss how fresh molten rock has been recharging in the mountain.
Since its massive eruption in 1980, the lava dome inside Mount St. Helen’s cratered top has been rebuilding itself. It saw considerable growth during a steam eruption that lasted between 2004 to 2008 (see time-lapse video below).
Carolyn Driedger, spokeswoman for the USGS said that an eruption, however, was not imminent.
“There are no signs of an impending eruption. This has been going on for some time. We’re no closer [to an eruption] today than we were yesterday,” Driedger told the Longview Daily News Wednesday.
KGW Reporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report