Mount Saint Helens

When Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, millions of years were blasted off of earth’s geological timetable.  Features which were once assumed to require millions of years to form, formed in a matter of hours and days.  The 9 hour eruption, which transformed the landscape, offered science a true key to earth’s past.  Thousands of trees were washed  into Spirit Lake, creating a huge floating log mat, beneath which three feet of bark peat has collected.  The largest landslide ever recorded filled the Toutle Valley with six hundred of feet of new dirt. The steam blast added finely layered sediment on top of the landslide/debris avalanche material. 

Two years later, in the spring of 1982, melting snow overflowed the crater’s rim and carved a gaping canyon in the side of the volcano.   The resulting mud-flow carved a complex canyon system through the sediment – in just one day.

Geological changes caused by the landslide/debris avalanche.

On May 18, 1980 the largest landslide in recorded history rushed into the Toutle River Valley. Turning the once “V” shaped valley into a “U” by filling it with 600 ft of new dirt topped with hummock hills caused by the energy waves in the fast moving debris.

Previously to the eruption, Mount St. Helens was a beautiful, glacier covered volcano. The landslide material therefore contained huge blocks of glacier ice. The melting ice formed ponds which now dot the hummock area.

40 years ago, these hummock hills were just rock and dirt. Scientists have been amazed at how quickly new growth has reclaimed the barren land.

Huge boulders were ripped from the volcano’s flanks and carried along by the landslide/debris avalanche.

A third of the landslide material rushed into Spirit Lake producing an 860 ft high wave of water which scoured the surrounding hills, uprooting the forest and washing the trees into Spirit Lake. The trees became a huge floating log mat. 40 years later, the mat continues to drift from shore to shore. Beneath the mat, bark has accumulated three feet deep. Many of the waterlogged trees have sunk in an upright position.

Geological changes caused by the 1982 mudflow

By 1982, just two years after the eruption, the crater had filled with snow. A small eruption melted the snow and the water overflowed the rim of the crater. The snowmelt soon became a mudflow as it pulverized the rim and gorged out the side of the volcano. 600 foot deep Step Canyon was carved in one day.
The picture below is a closeup of the mouth of the canyon.

The little stream did not carve the canyon.
The stream is formed from melting snow
which follows the path carved by the 1982 mudflow.

The mudflow rushed into the Toutle Valley carving canyons in the debris deposited during the 1980 eruption. The canyon system was carved in one day.

Today the canyon walls reveal the finely layered sediment deposited by the volcanic eruption. Fast flowing water or steam will sort sediment into layers – it does not require millions of years, or even a few years to; it can happen in hours.

The Story of the Stones Retold

Many generations have come and gone,

But the story of the stones is read all wrong.

Evidence of the flood

now promotes Satan’s lie,

“geological features show Millions of years”

There is no God controlling, or so it appears.

So man could see the folly of Satan’s fairytale

God allowed him to witness the Flood

on a miniature scale.

Canyons carved in hours, sediment layered high,

Uprooted trees replanted on the bottom of the lake,

All this did God orchestrate just for man’s sake.

In 1980 on the eighteenth of May

God put His mighty power on permanent display.

He shook the mountain and smoke filled the sky,

Then the world watched as Mt. St. Helens blew,

Perhaps man will now listen

To the story that is true.

           By Carla Estell 1994

You can learn more by contacting Brian and Carla Estell at Would you like to host a Mount St Helens seminar for your church, school, or scout group? Learn how by contacting Brian today – 678-644-0879