Aired Tuesday May 4th, 2010 at 7:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
Mt. St. Helens Eruption
One of the most violent natural disasters of our time, the colossal eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 blasted away an entire mountainside. Over the course of 30 years, biologist Charlie Crisafulli has been documenting the dramatic return of plant and animal life to the once barren landscape. But he has also tracked a new threat: the volcano could be coming back to life. KUED-Channel 7 presents Nova "Mt. St. Helen's Back from the Dead," airing Tuesday, May 4 at 7:00 p.m., for a pioneering look at the interplay between biology and geology and how scientists predict future volcanic eruptions.
When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, every living thing in the blast zone was buried beneath 300 feet of avalanche debris, covered with steaming mud and topped with a superheated layer of frothy rock. It seemed as though Mount St. Helens might remain a wasteland forever. Then, to everyone's surprise, life began to bloom again.
Soon after the 1980 eruption, new lava was bubbling up to the surface of Mt. St. Helens, and in 2004, a flurry of explosions blasted steam and ash thousands of feet into the air. The Nova team joins geologists and other scientists to find out what is driving this baffling volcanic activity. Using GPS, magnetic mapping and more, geologists are tracking the movement of magma deep within the volcano and revealing a hidden lattice of faults beneath the landscape.
The program profiles a team of geologists who discover an impending disaster: the Mt. St. Helen volcano is coming back to life. With the new cycle of eruptions beginning in 2004 - blasting steam and ash thousands of feet into the air - the Nova film crew goes inside the crater with geologists as they set up instruments to study magma deep inside the volcano revealing frightening facts about the restless mountain. It's a race against time as the scientists struggle to answer the crucial question: How soon could another catastrophic eruption occur?
Meanwhile a lone ecologist, Charlie Crisafulli, who had been living in the blast zone, was astonished and puzzled by how quickly plants and animals colonized the wasteland. With stunning cinematography and time-lapse photography, the documentary traces the dramatic story of Crisafulli and his study on the re-growth of Mt. St. Helens.
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