News FocusEcology

Mount St. Helens, Revisited

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Science  02 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5471, pp. 1578-1579
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5471.1578

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The devastating eruption of Mount St. Helens has transformed scientific thinking about the nature of volcanoes and how ecosystems recover from them. At a meeting here commemorating the 20th anniversary of the explosion, researchers discussed how their previous ideas about the huge debris avalanches and lava domes that sometimes accompany volcanic eruptions have been overturned. They also described the unexpectedly rapid recovery of the ecosystem and how it was driven by two previously overlooked forces: random chance and leftovers from the preblast landscape.