Mount St. Helens is ‘recharging’ — should you be worried about an imminent eruption?


If you read online this week that Mount St. Helens is about to blow (again), we can’t blame you for being a little freaked out.

Outlets like the New York Post and the Daily Mail blasted out headlines about “America’s most dangerous volcano” threatening to erupt again.

But should you actually be worried? Nope!

Like most internet rumors, this one has a kernel of truth: St. Helens has seen an increase in seismic activity this year.

Since February, “approximately 350 earthquakes have been located at Mount St. Helens,” according to a USGS report. There was also some increased activity toward the end of last year.

These more active periods “represent the largest short-term increase in earthquake rates since the last eruption ended in 2008,” the USGS said.

It’s part of a phenomenon called “recharging,” which sounds scarier than it actually is.

In the simplest terms, recharging happens when more magma rises and increases pressure inside the volcano. Recharging can be an indicator of future eruptions. But that process, the USGS says in the Mount St. Helens report, “can continue for many years without an eruption.”

Mount St. Helens is the most active volcano in the contiguous United States — meaning the so-called “lower 48″ — so this is something that scientists expect to see. The volcano is simply doing what volcanoes do.

The USGS has not changed the mountain’s alert level and does not consider an eruption imminent — or even likely.

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