New Lava Dome Forms

Mount St. Helens lobe sprouts 300-foot extension of glowing rock

Mount St. Helens continues to hold scientists' interest with the new lava lobe inside its crater that's sprouting a piston-like protrusion the size of a 30-story building that glows red at night.

Two scientists flew into the crater by helicopter Thursday and landed beside the new structure to collect samples. The new lobe, which began building last month, had grown to roughly the size of an aircraft carrier. Scientists described it as 900 feet long and 250 feet wide. Magma, or molten rock, is reaching the surface at a rate equivalent to about one large dump truck load every second. Temperatures on the new protrusion can spike as high as 12-hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists say a more explosive eruption, possibly dropping ash within a ten-mile radius of the crater, is possible at any time.