Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Mt. St. Helens

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Helene eruption affected Washington State's Economy On Sunday, May 18, 1980, at 8:AMA, Mat. SST. Helene erupted. Most people don't realize how the eruption affected our economy. It affected Washington's forestry / forest production, trade, transportation, topography, fisheries, and wildlife. Our Economy lost millions of dollars. Let's see how it affected our economy. First, let's start with forestry/forest production. This affected companies which had been logging. The companies had to cut back on logging while the blasted timber was being harvested.

Although the lack of umber caused fluctuations In the market prices for logs, such variation were outweighed in large measures by the downward pressure on market prices generated by the depressed level of the economy. Also, the presence of the ash on the ground and on the logs presented serious problems in harvesting of the logs, and their processing into products. The ash, being gritty in nature, caused extensive wear on chain saws, chipper knives, and other cutting equipment, thus raising costs of logging and of manufacturing. Also, Washington being one of the three Pacific Northwest states plays a role in trade.

Washington particularly is important for products like wheat, flour, lumber, and wood products. The main loss was the ash damage to crops like fruit trees, wheat, and barley. The trade for lumber and wood products also decreased from the loss of trees. Trade was also affected from transportation. Without transportation they couldn't send the exports. Transportation was damaged by ash fall, mudslides, floods, and the blast. As a result that damaged 63 miles of roads, about 25 bridges, and blocked the Columbia River. The highest of all the bridges in the National Forest Service Land damaged was a gig steel- girder.

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Also, nine bridges by the Tuttle River. The combination of damage to roads and bridges was about $1 12 million dollars, A result of Mat. SST. Helene blow was mudslides In the Tuttle and Cowlick River. When the cowl flooded water lost speed as they mixed with the Tidal Columbia; they could no longer carry nearly as much sediment. Consequently, somewhere between 40 million and 60 million cubic yards of volcanic material entered the Columbia River. The Columbia River was blocked no longer than a week. Traffic resumed 5 days after the eruption. The

Columbia River ports were capable of normal operation no longer than a month after the eruption. The damage of the Columbia River created a loss of about 4 percent of all cargo that would have been otherwise passed through the ports in 1980. The Columbia River repairs were $44 million dollars but it was of relatively short duration. The landscape (or topography) of the area around Mat. SST. Helene was greatly affected by the eruption. The blast blew approximately 1. 5 cubic kilometers off the top of the were a major product of the eruption. Most of the north and south forks of the Tuttle River were destroyed.

Many other rivers around the mountain, like the Green River and the Cowlick River, had increased silt and sediment deposited, and thus their capacity for water flow and navigation reduced. The second the blast played with the river system, it was serious. The immediate danger was flooding. The communities around the Cowlick and Tuttle River were threatened by the mudflows. Erosion was another danger. In the blast area the devastation was almost complete. The grounds were stripped of vegetation and the natural barriers to erosion were destroyed. Immediately after the blast there was evidence of erosion on the hillsides.

As the lilies eroded, it increased the amount of soil and rock. As time went by, the soil and rock then entered into the rivers. The damaging effect of Mat. SST. Helene eruption to fisheries was substantial. It resulted primarily from mudflows and floods. The eruption adversely affected the entire Mat. SST. Helene drainage system. All of the fish in the Tuttle and in the Cowlick Rivers were killed by the eruption. Salmon was the main fish impacted. The majority of them were the young salmon (about 400,000) that were on their way downstream at the time of the eruption. The fisheries estimated a loss of about 12 million Juvenile almond.

The salmon losses included all the salmon from all the affected rivers at that time. The dredging of the ship channels in the Columbia and Cowlick Rivers was also believed to have killed many fish. Normally there was no dredging at that time because of the fish migration, but large scale dredging was carried out during the eruption. Fish in the Columbia River were affected by temperatures caused by the eruption. All hatcheries in the region had their costs increased as a result of the necessity of cleaning up the ash that had entered their systems. There was also a cost associated with moving fish from one location to another.

The blast destroyed about 154 miles of trout streams and 26 lakes. The total cost of damage for fisheries was about $22 million dollars. Finally, not only did fish die but so did other wildlife. It was estimated by the Washington State Game Department that 1 ,551 ,OHO animals (not including the fish) died because of the eruption. Among the casualties there were about 5,250 elk, 6,000 deer, 200 bears, 100 mountain goats, and 15 cougars. The blast destroyed 195 square miles of habitat. Wildlife in ash-covered areas suffered some chronic health damage room the ash fall, but didn't become a widespread problem.

Respiratory damage to grazing animals was a major concern, but it usually develops only after years of exposure to airborne dust, so it didn't seem likely. The ash did not appear to be harmful when ingested by grazing animals, but it could injure fish. The ash was extremely sharp and could severely lacerate gills, causing injury or death. The grand total for everything was about 1,213 million dollars. Washington's Economy was definitely affected by Mat. SST. Helene eruption. I hope this information helps you understand how the eruption affected our economy.

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