Eruption at Mount St. Helens

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," Oct. 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALISYN CAMEROTA, GUEST HOST: Tonight, a dramatic scene at Mount St. Helens where a spectacular cloud of steam and ash erupted just a few hours ago. The volcano had a major eruption 24 years ago that killed 57 people.

Joining us is Jeff Wynn, chief scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascade Volcano Observatory in Vancouver.

Mr. Wynn, thank you for being here. What the is the status of Mount St. Helens at this hour? What happened there today?

JEFF WYNN, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: I'm about an hour out of date, and, in this volcano situation, that's a long time, but the seismicity, as I understood it, was beginning to pick back up just a few hours after the eruption.

CAMEROTA: Now how are geologists like yourself able to predict with such precision this eruption?

WYNN: We have sensors at many different levels, including deformation, seismic devices. We have gas-sniffing, many different ways that we can monitor. And all of the scientists talk with each other and they compare data and they come to a consensus view. This means this, and, therefore, we think this will happen because of the history this.

CAMEROTA: We're looking at the spectacular pictures right now, and we can see that there's a lot of ash. What risks does that ash pose?

WYNN: Not very much risk to people in the near locale because it wasn't a very big eruption, but significant risk to aircraft. Anything flying through that cloud — I believe it got almost to 10,000 feet ASL, above sea level, and it could ruin an airplane's engines, and then the pilot needs to find someplace to land real quick.

CAMEROTA: Has an advisory been issued to the FAA because of this?

WYNN: Immediately when we got the signals for the eruption, it went to the FAA and the Washington DAAC.


Jeff, thank you.

And thanks for all of you for being with us tonight.

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