Ecologist's Dream: A (Safe) Volcanic Eruption

Activity has persisted at Mount St. Helens, seen here on Oct. 1, 2004. John Pallister/USGS

hide captionActivity has persisted at Mount St. Helens, seen here on Oct. 1, 2004.

John Pallister/USGS
Ecologist Charlie Crisafulli measures plant growth. Howard Berkes, NPR

hide captionEcologist Charlie Crisafulli measures plant growth near Mount St. Helens, seen in background.

Howard Berkes, NPR

New activity at Mount St. Helens — from pluming steam to oozing lava — has geologists monitoring the Washington state volcano closely. The gradual eruption that began in September, the first in 18 years, has some worried about explosions, ash and mudflows.

But ecologist Charlie Crisafulli, who has studied Mount St. Helens since 1980, says he's eager for the mountain to erupt again. According to Crisafulli, another eruption — which he says would be nothing like its catastrophic predecessor — would anchor his work, more than two decades of examining how life adjusts to a volcano.

After all, Crisafulli says, "what more could one ask for in their career?" NPR's Howard Berkes sends an audio postcard from the shadows of Mount St. Helens.

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