Steam seeping from the lava dome at the top of Mount St. Helens this week is the first indication that an eruption could be near at hand. While the prospects of an eruption are low this is the first significant seismic activity since 2004. A magnitude-2.9 earthquake had registered on seismographs at an observatory in Vancouver, Canada. That was followed by a small tremor that lasted nearly an hour and a half, which is an unusually long period. It was followed by a second quake of magnitude 2.7 — all in the same period in which steam was seen spewing from the top. Mount St. Helens blew its top with devastating force on May 18, 1980, leveling 230 square miles of forest and killing 57 people.
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