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Geochemical Precursors to Volcanic Activity at Mount St. Helens, USA

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Science  12 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5699, pp. 1167-1169
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103869

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Abstract

The importance of the interplay between degassing and crystallization before and after the eruption of Mount St. Helens (Washington, USA) in 1980 is well established. Here, we show that degassing occurred over a period of decades to days before eruptions and that the manner of degassing, as deduced from geochemical signatures within the magma, was characteristic of the eruptive style. Trace element (lithium) and short-lived radioactive isotope (lead-210 and radium-226) data show that ascending magma stalled within the conduit, leading to the accumulation of volatiles and the formation of lead-210 excesses, which signals the presence of degassing magma at depth.

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