Ashes, Erosion and Mini-Canyons
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Before you start!! Remember that it is illegal to remove anything from this area. If you pick up something to look at it, replace it where you found it.
During the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, hot rock and ash were blasted laterally up to 17 miles, killing everything in their path. The results of this blast were confined to the local area. You will see these results along the road to the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
The vertical ash eruption lasting 9 hours rose to a height of 15 miles above the crater and drifted to the northeast. The results of this part of the blast were much more far reaching, disrupting travel and causing widespread economic loss as far to the east as western Montana. It turned daylight hours dark as the ash drifted over and fell in eastern Washington. Trace amounts of ash were detected around the world.
Small explosive eruptions of ash and rock continue to occur on a regular basis to the present time.
In areas on the mountain flanks where the thick layers of ash settled, trickles of water turned into rivulets and began to carve new channels down the mountain slopes. These rivulets turned into streams that cut even deeper into the ash, carrying some of the ash with them, giving a distinctive color to the streams.
Over the years, these streams have carved mini-canyons into the ash, exposing ash walls to view. In flatter areas, the ash carried by the streams and rivers settled, forming plugs that resulted in newly formed lakes such as Coldwater Lake and Castle Lake.
To log your find for this earthcache:
A. Go to the stated coordinates which are parking coordinates. From there you will visit three waypoints within easy walking distance to answer the questions. At parking, your car can go no farther; however, I have confirmed that you may walk beyond the gate. Stop at each of the waypoints to get the answers to the related questions.
B. If possible, send answers at the same time you log your find. If this won't work for you, I need to know when to expect the answers. If you send answers first, please log your find right away without waiting for permission. If there are problems, I will contact you.
C. If sending answers for a group, I need to know those geocaching names and they have to log their finds at about the same time you do so that I don't lose track.
Questions to be answered:
1. Waypoints 1 and 2 - compare the erosion at these two sites.
2. Waypoint 2 - give reasons for or against there being a canyon here in the future.
3. Waypoint 3 has ash from the explosion. At this time no soil has formed at this location Some of the ash solidified due to heat, although it might still be crumbled given enough force. List the colors you see. Select two of the colors and give a reason for each as to why they might be that color.
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