On May 18, 1980, Mt St Helens erupted with intensity that not only shook the things around its environment more so than any other volcanic eruption worldwide that year but it also shook a new reality for scientists known as catastrophic geology. It’s powerful blast that went from five to fifty feet in the air each day causing 600 feet of new strata to form inspired many young men to become geologists.
In a mere three hours, 25 feet out of 600 feet was accumulated. It was deposited by pyroclastic flows produced by the eruption plume of debris over the volcano. The strata contained thin laminae and cross bedding. It’s absolutely amazing how the finest stratification was formed in an event that resembled the same type of violence of a hurricane!
On this 30th anniversary of the eruption we see differences between creationists and evolutionists on what we have learned from Mt St Helens.
Creation geology pointed out that Mt. St. Helens was an important observation for catastrophic flood geology as well. The work of geologist Dr. Stephen A. Austin in particular has had a large influence in creationist circles. He took a team scuba-diving in Spirit Lake to study the effects of waterlogged trees sinking in the peat sediments at the bottom. He found logs uprooted by the blast were being planted in upright positions at the bottom of Spirit Lake, giving the appearance they had grown in that position. This was reminiscent of the Yellowstone fossil forests. A layer of peat buried in Spirit Lake has the texture and appearance of a coal deposit forming.
Observations like these could not be dismissed outright but certainly they were ignored. Not surprisingly, his work wasn’t even mentioned in secular publications like Nature or Live Science 30 years later. Rather the focus was drawn to Mt St Helens making a “indelible mark on the field of volcanology” which is true but only selected certain lessons. But one thing she did point out concerning the new realizations of the power of landslides and lateral blasts during eruptions but refused to mention anything about the work of Dr. Stephen A. Austin because he was a creationist.
Although, they (like talking origins) have tried to discredit him in other publications by claiming that he believed Mt St Helens was responsible for “suddenly” carving a canyon like a miniature Grand Canyon. Creationists do not believe the Grand Canyon was formed during the original days of creation mentioned in the Bible but rather the result of a global flood. Mt. St. Helens only provides a model for how rapid erosion occurs! So what creationists proposed about the formation of the Grand Canyon took much longer with much stronger processes than “suddenly” at Mt St Helens level but not in the realm of the evolutionary time framework.
Once last thing, Satellite images showing 30 years ago and then today show a remarkable amount of vegetation that has grown during those years. Live Science gives a list of plants and animals in the blast zone with a record of how they have fared since the eruption.