Nation: Windows into the Restless Earth

From the moment Mount St. Helens began acting up, dozens of scientists flocked to its flanks to plant instruments and set up observation posts. Indeed, until last week's eruption, the scientists hovered over the mountain almost as intently as parents do over a precocious child. Geologists even flew curiosity, over the fuming crater. Why the seemingly foolhardy curiosity, which almost surely cost the lives of three investigators? Explains one researcher: "Volcanoes are windows through which the scientist looks into the bowels of the earth."

These windows have lately been providing a fascinating view....

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