Distribution of plant detritus and recovery of plants in deposits of May, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens

This study seeks to identify types and sizes of plant material and distance and means of deposition in the May 1980 blast of Mount St. Helens. Types of plant material included pieces of moss, leaves, stems, roots, tree branches and trunks. Four types of transport were identified. The debris avalanche deposited plant material 23 km away. Mudflows (lahars) carried material 75 km to the Columbia River. The pressure blast removed vegetation in a 500 km2 area. Pyroclastic flows in conjunction with the plinian column spread plant debris for at least 75 km in a 110o arc to the north and east. These results are being compared with fossilized records of volcanic eruptions worldwide but especially those from Tertiary western United States.

 

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