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Know the West

Misleading comparisons


I find the update on the Kilauea Volcano (HCN, 6/11/18) puzzling in the extreme. First of all, it describes the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens as the backstory to Kilauea’s current eruption, claiming that “Lessons from Mount St. Helens are proving useful in understanding Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano.” The two volcanoes are entirely different with regard to the type of magma they erupt and the character of their eruptions. Even if a pertinent volcano backstory were possible, it would be derived from Kilauea, which has erupted under the eyes of trained volcanologists many, many times since Thomas Jaggar established the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in 1912. During the same time, Mount St. Helens has erupted once, in 1980.

Then there is the ecological angle, which seems to be the real reason for this piece. The climate and characteristic flora of the Mount St. Helens region are totally different from those along the eastern rift zone of Kilauea. If HCN simply wants to advertise Charlie Crisafulli’s recent book about ecological responses at Mount St. Helens since the 1980 eruption, why not just run an ad? The currently active east rift zone of Kilauea has bounced back ecologically many times during the past century, and will do so again when the current eruption stops. There will be lots of rainfall, a tropical climate and even some new soil.

Wendell Duffield
Greenbank, Washington