Man-made earthquakes will help scientists map Mount St. Helens

WASHINGTON -- Scientists are preparing for a massive project on Mount St. Helens, which could help better predict future eruptions.

A small army of 75 geophysicists are preparing for the equivalent of a combined ultrasound and CAT Scan of the famous volcano's internal plumbing.

It's very difficult to determine how big an eruption will be, so this is a first step in being able to do that, said University of Washington seismologist Ken Creager, who is helping to coordinate the project.

Around 3,500 seismological sensors are being installed around the mountain, with some as far north as Mount Rainier and as far south as the Columbia River.

Those sensors will pick up shock waves from 23 seismic charges that will be detonated in 80-foot boreholes around the volcano.

The concept is that the blast puts energy into the ground and we record that energy and make a 3-D image of the wave structure inside the earth, said Creager.

The explosive charges will create 2.0 magnitude earthquakes.

Scientists doubt anyone will feel them in the metro area. The charges are set to be detonated on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

Scientists also hope to learn whether Mt. St. Helen's internal plumbing is connected to other volcanoes in the area including Rainier, Adams and Hood.

More: Magma levels rising in Mount St. Helens


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