Mystery mongering sites rumbling about St. Helens eruption

Several mystery mongering sites report newz about natural events by means of exploiting fear of imminent catastrophic disasters. I wonder how they can sleep at night being so scared of the regular workings of nature they see as so ominous. Today, it’s Mount Saint Helens as the subject to incite panic among the few who take their amateur science commentary to heart. The stratovolcano in the Cascades range is sitting there doing it’s thing, slowly by surely, serving as a conduit for earth’s interior heat to get to the surface. Volcanoes are complicated things, this one is tricky too. The eruption periods of the volcanoes in this zone exhibit thousand of years of activity followed by thousands of years of total quiet. It takes a long time to recharge the very deep magma chambers and pipes that feed vents on the surface. While that is going on, scientists record the tiny earthquakes, small changes to surface elevations indicating uplift or subsidence, and chemical and physical changes of gasses and groundwater, among other metrics. Mt St Helens’ last major eruption began in 1980 with a big eruption that built up over 3 months. It quieted down after 1991 though still not dormant. 36 years seems like a long time to a person but in geologic time, it’s a blip.

St. Helens rumbled with a cluster of about 120 small earthquakes beginning in late November. The quakes were too small to feel but give seismologists and volcanologists information about how magma is moving back into the volcano. This is normal. It’s the typical life cycle of this volcano that exists in geologic time, not fairly judged by human lifespan. The current swarm was similar to other swarms in 2013 and 2014 that also got some a bit rattled. The hot melted rock generated by the adjacent subduction zone offshore takes a long time to move and often cools in place to the point where it stops moving. Eventually, the pressure will build up enough to cause additional signals at the surface. Volcanoes like this give ample warning to scientists watching them that they are about to spew bigly. The scientists from the US Geological Survey who monitor the nation’s volcanoes and seismic activity noted that there are no signs of an eruption from these quakes.

The magmatic system is likely imparting its own stresses on the crust around and above it, as the system slowly recharges. The stresses drive fluids through cracks, producing the small quakes. Subtle evidence of recharge has been observed since 2008 and can continue for many years. It is a sign that Mount St. Helens remains an active volcano.

But that kind of reassurance doesn’t get clicks to your ad-infested blog! Here are three of the worst repeat offenders that too many people share as real news. Check out their headlines which are unsupported by the facts and expert opinion.

Scary misleading headline and blinding ads make this site not worth visiting. Photo also reveals I was searching for dog clippers on other sites. I’m being followed…


This site posts superficial information about events framed as suggesting that something strange and terrible is happening to the earth. The prominent clickbait also suggests this is not a reputable site.


Alert! This site is not affiliated with Nature, the reputable science journal, but they don’t mind if you think they are. They go to great lengths to sound sciencey about UFO and alien invasion on their main page.

Most people aren’t well versed enough in science to know that these sites are not providing high-quality information and making some unfounded suggestions. All people get from these are frightened that an eruption is imminent. If your friends in the northwest are panicky, tell them to consult the experts, not the pretenders, for important and reliable status updates. They probably should be more worried about the major earthquakes that come without any warning. Those things can really kill you. Be prepared, not scared.

  7 comments for “Mystery mongering sites rumbling about St. Helens eruption

  1. bill turnbull
    December 15, 2016 at 6:16 PM

    “spew bigly”, I like that I and I totally stealing it.

  2. Chris
    December 15, 2016 at 6:39 PM

    Well, it has “erupted” several times since 1980, that is why there is a little dome inside the crater:

    I was in my last year of college when the it had it is massive catastrophic eruption. From March until it blew up there were various reports as it rumbled with bigger quakes as it got closer to May. One of the biggest causes for the harm was an earthquake that caused one side to slide down and directed the pyroclastic flow in mostly one direction. We got nothing in Seattle, but Yakima and Spokane went dark with the ash.

    The present rumblings don’t get much news coverage here other than a short news article, which as you can see says it is a “well behaved volcano.”

  3. randall krippner
    December 16, 2016 at 8:09 AM

    My son is a geologist and stories like the ones shown above drive him crazy. As pointed out, almost all volcanoes are subject to these swarms of little mini-quakes. As Sharon points out, they are useful in that they indicate how the unseen parts of the volcano are functioning and what’s going on. A precursor to an eruption, though? It depends entirely on a host of other factors – swelling of the dome, increased emissions of gases, what’s in the gasses… It’s a complicated thing, predicting eruptions. Seismological indicators are only one of a dozen or more factors that are involved.

    I was out in western Wyoming when one of the periodic ‘the world is going to end’ stories about the Yellowstone supervolcano was going on. Most people, thankfully, laughed about it, but I did talk to some people who cut vacations short from concerns for safety.

  4. December 16, 2016 at 8:47 AM
  5. Bob Jase
    December 16, 2016 at 1:26 PM

    Don’t worry, once Trump gets sworn in all volcano monitoring will cease & if no one looks then no eruptions occur.

  6. December 16, 2016 at 1:50 PM

    And we all die in our sleep from something

  7. One Eyed Jack
    December 17, 2016 at 8:13 AM

    A bit of a tangent, but I had to chuckle as I saw one of the screen caps advertises a treatment for toe fungus. I’ve noticed this is a recurring add at these sites. Is there a correlation between toe fungus and people that are pulled in by these sites? One can only wonder.

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