Here are a few things I learned on our trip (and there's so much more that I learned, these are just the highlights!):
1) When the volcano blew, it was a lateral blast, which means that the blast came out the side of the mountain.
2) About 90% of the mountain came down in the blast. It was the biggest landslide ever known.
3) Since the blast, a lava dome has been building inside the center of the blown up mountain. It is still a very active volcano with smoke coming out of it!
4) Two devastating actions happened when the volcano blew up, a landslide that covered everything, and a blast of hot air and ash that turned areas hundreds of miles away to dark as night.
5) Not everything in its path died. Snow still covered the ground in April of 1980, so that snow protected creatures living in the ground (mice, groundhogs, etc.) These animals that survived helped irrigate the earth so that plant life could grow again.
We both loved Mount St. Helens and found it utterly fascinating. I would highly recommend it to anyone who's thinking about going.
This is a zoomed in shot of the center of the mountain.
This shows the lava dome growing and the smoke escaping!
The day was perfect, so anything that looks like a cloud is actually smoke.