A swarm of over 130 small earthquakes has been recorded beneath the surface of Mount St. Helens in Washington state over the past two months, according to U.S. government scientists. But even then, researchers have assured people that there is no need to worry about the volcano erupting in the near future.
According to USGS’ Seth Moran, the swarm means Mount St. Helens may erupt in the future, but as he told Live Science, that may happen “years to decades down the road.”
The U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement that the activity suggests Mount St. Helens is “still very much alive,” though there is nothing to be concerned about despite the recent swarm. There have been no strange gases reported, and neither has the USGS found any signs of magma getting inflated by the tiny quakes underneath.
Fortunately, the earthquakes are too weak for most people to feel them on the surface, with a magnitude ranging from less than 0.5 to 1.3. They have been tracked some 1.2 to four miles beneath Mount St. Helens’ surface, thus making it even harder for people to feel them. However, scientists are most interested by how the quakes have been becoming more common since mid-March.
According to the USGS, Mount St. Helens is in the process of recharging, though this process may last for multiple years without the volcano being at risk of erupting. Further, this isn’t the first time in recent years that scientists have detected earthquake swarms in the area, as these were noticed in the 1990s, in 2013, and in 2014, years after the volcano’s catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980. That eruption ended up killing 57 people, while triggering forest fires and floods and causing widespread damage.