Erosional furrows formed during the lateral blast at Mount St. Helens, May 18, 1980

S. W. Kieffer, B. Sturtevant

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Nearly horizontal, quasi-periodic erosional features of 7-m average transverse wavelength and of order 100-m length occur in scattered locations from 3.5 to 9 km from the crater at Mount St. Helens under deposits of the lateral blast of May 18, 1980. We attribute the erosional features to scouring by longitudinal vortices resulting from flow instabilities induced by complex topography, namely, by streamline curvature in regions of reattachment downstream of sheltered regions, and by the cross-flow component of flow subparallel to ridge crests. The diameter of the vortices and their transverse spacing, inferred from the distance between furrows, are taken to be of the order of the boundary layer thickness. The inferred boundary layer thickness (≃14 m at 9 km from the source of the blast) is consistent with the running length from the mountain to the furrow locations. The orientation of furrows induced by the cross-flow instability can be used to measure the upwash angle and estimate the flow Mach number: at the central ridge of Spirit Lake the Mach number is inferred to have been about 2.5, and the flow velocity approximately 235 m/s. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14,793-14,816
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB12
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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