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Geomorphic Response of the Muddy River Basin to the 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens, 1980–2000

  • Thomas E. Lisle
  • Jon J. Major
  • Jasper H. HardisonIII
Chapter

Abstract

The 18 May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced a mosaic of primary landscape disturbances that decreased in intensity with distance from the volcano across the headwaters of Muddy River and its tributaries. Subsequent geomorphic responses were influenced by evolving hillslope and channel conditions that affected fluxes of water, sediment, and wood, as well as by an exceptional storm in February 1996. Sediment fluxes have generally decreased, but downed wood in channels remains episodically mobile. Geomorphic change and biotic activity in the basin continue to interact in terrestrial, riparian, and aquatic ecosystems and in many cases diversify ecosystem conditions.

Keywords

Post-eruption geomorphic response Basin-scale disturbance Hydrologic impacts Large woody debris Post-eruption sedimentation Channel aggradation Propagation of disturbance 

Notes

Acknowledgment

We acknowledge the special contributions of our late colleague Dick Janda, who fostered many of the initial studies of geomorphic response to the eruption and promoted communications among scientific communities.

Glossary

Blast pyroclastic density current

A form of pyroclastic density current initiated by rapid decompression of lava domes or cryptodomes (magma bodies cooled high within a volcanic edifice) owing to sudden collapse. Rapid decompression results in a directed explosion that initially impels the current laterally before it becomes a gravity-driven flow. In the case of the Mount St. Helens 1980 eruption, failure of the volcano’s north flank unroofed pressurized magma and superheated water. Rapid exsolution of magmatic gases and conversion of superheated water to steam produced a laterally directed blast, which formed a density current that flowed across rugged topography. The current contained fragmented rock debris as well as shattered forest material.

Debris avalanche

A rapid granular flow of an unsaturated or partly saturated mixture of volcanic rock particles (± ice) and water, initiated by the gravitational collapse and disintegration of part of a volcanic edifice. Debris avalanches differ from debris flows in that they are not water-saturated. Although debris avalanches commonly occur in association with eruptions, they can also occur during periods when a volcano is dormant.

Lahar

An Indonesian term for a rapid granular flow of a fully saturated mixture of volcanic rock particles (± ice), water, and commonly woody debris. A lahar that has ≥50% solids by volume is termed a debris flow; one that has roughly 10–50% solids by volume is termed a hyperconcentrated flow. Flow type can evolve with time and distance along a flow path as sediment is entrained or deposited.

Pyroclastic density current (PDC)

Rapid flow of a dry mixture of hot (commonly >700 °C) solid particles, gases, and air, which can range in character from a dense, ground-hugging flow (pyroclastic flow) to a turbulent, low-density cloud of mostly fine ash and superheated air (pyroclastic surge). A single PDC commonly involves both flow types as a result of gravitational segregation. Flows are generally gravity driven but may be accelerated initially by impulsive lateral forces of directed volcanic explosions. Flows typically move at high velocity (up to several hundred km/hr).

Pyroclastic flow

See pyroclastic density current (PDC).

Tephrafall

A rain of volcanic particles to the ground following ejection into the atmosphere by an explosive eruption. Tephra is a collective term for particles of any size, shape, or composition ejected in an explosive eruption.

Thalweg

The trajectory of the connection of lowest points of the channel bed along the length of a stream channel. The thalweg marks the natural direction of a watercourse.

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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas E. Lisle
    • 1
  • Jon J. Major
    • 2
  • Jasper H. HardisonIII
    • 3
  1. 1.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research StationArcataUSA
  2. 2.Cascades Volcano ObservatoryU.S. Geological SurveyVancouverUSA
  3. 3.Realty and Natural Resources Division, Water Resources BranchU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceAnchorageUSA

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