Abstract

Mount St. Helens in Washington State erupted violently (Volcano Explosivity Index = 5) on 18 May 1980. During the previous two months, intense seismic activity at the volcano was recorded by a combination of continuous analog‐tape recordings, paper drum recordings, and a recently installed triggered digital event computer system. Because of the technological constraints of the time, the digital data available cover only a little more than 1% of the two‐month period. The paper drum records only exist for a few of the seismic stations and are also quite incomplete. However, the analog‐tape data from some stations is near complete for almost the whole two months. During the period 2005–2014, these old analog tapes were recovered from storage and digitized to generate standard digital data for archiving at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Data Management Center. This recovery process was long and complicated but, for the most part, was fairly successful. Although the quality of these recovered data is nowhere near as good as modern digital seismograms, this dataset does provide a near‐continuous record of the significant seismic sequence that led up to the major volcanic eruption. It includes the large variety of seismic signals from different types of volcanic earthquakes and harmonic tremor and should be a valuable resource for those studying volcanic seismicity.

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