Science: Decoding the Volcano's Message

At Mount St. Helens: T shirts, bumper crops and suspense

It is the hottest show out of the West, competing with Disneyland and the tinsel of Hollywood. Visitors are flocking to it by the thousands. For sheer suspense it rivals even Hitchcock, continually hinting of ominous new surprises. The sulfurous center of all this attention is Mount St. Helens, site of the largest volcanic explosion in the U.S. in more than 60 years.

When the volcano erupted last May 18 with the force of 500 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs, it blew away a cubic mile of earth,...

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