The cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, resulted in a large, north-facing amphitheater, with a steep headwall rising 700 m above the crater floor. In this deeply shaded niche a glacier, here named the Amphitheater glacier, has formed. Tongues of ice-containing crevasses extend from the main ice mass around both the east and the west sides of the lava dome that occupies the center of the crater floor. Aerial photographs taken in September 1996 reveal a small glacier in the southwest portion of the amphitheater containing several crevasses and a bergschrund-like feature at its head. The extent of the glacier at this time is probably about 0.1 km2. By September 2001, the debris-laden glacier had grown to about 1 km2 in area, with a maximum thickness of about 200 m, and contained an estimated 120,000,000 m3 of ice and rock debris. Approximately one-third of the volume of the glacier is thought to be rock debris derived mainly from rock avalanches from the surrounding amphitheater walls. The newly formed Amphitheater glacier is not only the largest glacier on Mount St. Helens but its aerial extent exceeds that of all other remaining glaciers combined.
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