Lessons learned from Mount St. Helens

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Lessons from Mount St. Helens are applied to the Valles Caldera in a presentation at Pajarito Environmental Education Center.  

The Mount St. Helens volcano from 1980 to the present can apply to the Valles Caldera. Bob Parmenter, chief scientist at the Valles Caldera National Preserve, will address this topic 7 p.m. Feb. 18. 

Parmenter will paint a picture of the Valles Caldera ecosystem recovery during the early years after it erupted 1.25 million years ago, and he will tie it to what can be learned from recent activity at Mount St. Helens. 

Given more than a dozen eruptions over the past million years, how have the Valles Caldera ecosystems responded? What did the post-eruption landscape look like, and how quickly did plants and animals return? Which species arrived first, setting the stage for the succession of other plants and animals? Parmenter will answer all of these questions.

Parmenter and his colleagues have worked on the Mount St. Helens volcano in the state of Washington for more than 30 years, recording the changes in flora and fauna following the explosive eruption in 1980. Based on these studies, Parmenter will re-create the early post-eruption Jemez Mountains ecosystems, describing the types of wildlife and vegetation that comprised the initial colonists, leading to the ecosystems seen today.

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