Mystery of the Volcanic Valentine

Mt. St. Helens

On February 14, 2011 – without envelopes, stamps or a social media network, Mt. St. Helens sent out Valentines to over 900 people!  And – it was a Valentine that most will not forget!  This Valentine came in the form of a 4.3 magnitude earthquake located 6 miles north of the mountain.  Where’s the love in that? - you may be wondering.

Here’s the shake on the quake — The earthquake sent out a specific kind of shear waves felt over 100 miles away.   This type of surface wave is named for the scientist who discovered it – Augustus Love.  These waves are called LOVE WAVES.  They are the fastest surface wave and move the ground from side-to-side.  Click here to see a Love Wave in Action.

SO — on Valentine’s Day, Mt. St. Helens sent out LOVE WAVES… “It was very rich in Love waves,” Steel said.  “Those Love waves coming out were probably what people were feeling.”

This is not the first time Mt. St. Helens has sent Valentine’s.  On Valentine’s Day in 1981, a 5.5 magnitude quake, in almost the same location, really “rocked”  with Love Waves.  It occurred 9 months after the explosive eruption of May 18, 1980.

Scientists said the recent quake does not indicate magma rising inside Mt. St. Helens, but was instead tectonic plates clashing beneath the earth’s surface along the fault. (Strange thought – the more clashing of the plates the more “Love” you feel…)

So – If you want your next Valentine’s Day to really “rock,” you might consider a trip to Mt. St. Helens.  Who knows if she will decide to send out more “Valentine’s” next year?

Click here to go to the Kid’s Activity Page for the Mystery of the Volcanic Valentine.

Referenced from The Columbian

About Kimberly Guthrie

Kimberly Guthrie loves adventures in the outdoors. National Park Ranger, Outdoor instructor, curriculum writer, teacher and guide at Mount St. Helens’ Seven Wonders Museum are some of her life adventures. Kim continues to write and teach about the outdoors. Currently, she serves as outdoor education consultant for Allaso Ranch near Hawkins, Texas. Kim holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from University of Central Arkansas and a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Northern Illinois University.
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