Skip to comments.Naming Mount St. Helens new dome confusing
Posted on 11/24/2004 2:04:17 PM PST by microgood
YAKIMA, Wash. -- That whaddyacallit that's growing on Mount St. Helens - what DO you call it? Even Shakespeare himself might have trouble figuring out what's in a name.
It's been called the "blister," "wart," "thing" and "lobe" since it appeared last month in the crater of the reanimated Mount St. Helens volcano. One researcher referred to it as "an uplift," before most everyone in the know agreed it must be a dome.
Naming the dome - now about the size of an aircraft carrier - could be another matter altogether. In one meeting, a scientist threw out a suggestion: 21st Century Dome.
Even the scientists thought that one was awful, Jeff Wynn of the U.S. Geological Survey said with a chuckle: "When he said that, everybody sort of applauded - but with sarcasm."
And some say scientists aren't creative.
In 1792, British explorer George Vancouver named the mountain for a countryman, diplomat Baron St. Helens. American Indians in the region referred to the mountain as Loo-Wit Lat-kla or Louwala-Clough, meaning fire mountain or smoking mountain.
The mountain erupted violently in 1980, killing 57 people and shrouding much of the Northwest in volcanic ash. A six-year period of small, natural dome-building eruptions followed, leaving researchers to study the mountain and its growth.
During that time, scientists assigned hundreds of unofficial names to geographic features on the mountain as they performed measurements. The points were usually temporary, destroyed during the volcano's activity.
Temporary or not, scientists clearly aimed to have the features remembered.
People's names were used regularly, including Agnes, Bertha and Blanche. Animals from antelope to zebra rested on the mountain in various forms. A gigantic boulder was affectionately termed Federal Building, with nearby points named Acid and Pot.
One researcher called a point B.O. - after an unsavory co-worker perhaps? And the Dumb location surely had a story behind it.
From Bugga Bugga to Jailhouse Rock, Polly Purebred to X-Lox, scientists have proven they have a sense of humor - even if the public doesn't see it, said Richard Waitt, geologist with the USGS.
They're just whimsical, he said.
"We're often accused of being unimaginative," he said. "It's probably partly the nature of being scientists."
But scientists aren't unimaginative, just practical, Waitt said. In the case of an emergency, the name of a geographic site should be straight forward and simple.
That underscores the serious nature of naming geographic points, said Grant Smith, a member of the Washington State Board on Geographic Names. The seven-member board approves official names for lakes, mountains, streams and other geographic features in the state.
Names provide a standardized reference point for commerce and rescue operations, but everybody gets into the business of naming when they get interested in something, he said.
"That's what naming does, it reflects the interest," he said. "The sense of community, identity, who we are, what we are."
A glacier that had been growing in the crater of Mount St. Helens since late fall 1980 has gone without an official name for years, although the state board recently announced four finalists.
They include Spirit Glacier; Tulutson Glacier, which is an American Indian term submitted by the Cowlitz tribe meaning ice; and Tamanawas Glacier, a Chinook jargon word that loosely translates to "guiding spirit," according to the proposal.
The fourth possibility is Crater Glacier, which Waitt submitted to the board because it's what scientists have called it all along.
Naming the glacier may be a wasted effort if it melts amid the recent activity under the mountain. Regardless, most of the time, points on the mountain go without official names anyway, Waitt said.
Case in point: the old dome that arose following the 1980 eruption. Scientists still refer to it as "the Old Lava Dome."
For years, visitors to the volcano wondered at the size of the dome during its growth. Scientists compared it to "so-many Kingdomes," Waitt said, referring to the now-flattened Seattle stadium. "Of course, now it's a meaningless comparison."
Just name it "The Dome" and then they can all worry and fret about actual things of importance...
The Dome formerly known as Old Lava Dome?
in the voice of Gilbert Godfried... "I say we call it a hemorrhoid, and name it Hillary. After all, It's big and swollen like her, and at some point, she has to blow!"
Michael Moore's butt.
The Big Zit?
I heard that their is a photograph taken from space and it looks just like Mt. Rushmore! /kidding
Hope St.Helens doesn't get pissy again,the first blast turned day into night here in Yakima.
Mt. Dean. It swells, turns red, makes noise, blows up, then is gone forever.
until St. Helens farts or has diarrhea...
Dome of the Rock ping.
The word "dome" has always seemed just fine to me.
This one's easy..a snap..name it Thomas..then it would be known as "Mount St. Helen's Thomas..
I think we should call it The Horta. That's what it looks like :)
About a week ago there was a story that the plug was begining to rise, likely from the main vent. The story said it was as high as a 30 story building and rising at the pace of ~50 feet per day.
Did anybosy ever find good pictures of that?