Mount St. Helens: Return to Life
LocationMount St. Helens Interpretive Centers, Washington
Since the historic eruption at Mount St. Helens scientists have been observing how life has returned to a devastated landscape; this interactive kiosk collects, preserves, and presents highlights of their ongoing discoveries.
The catastrophic 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens transformed a mountain and many of its surrounding landscapes, ecosystems, and habitats while at the same time clearing the stage for entirely new creative productions to unfold. The equilibrium of a mature ecosystem was disrupted providing new opportunities for flora and fauna. While the eruption is often described as a single event it was in reality comprised of a series of discreet geological events that each gave rise to distinct “disturbance zones.” The zones are captured in a custom-built, interactive 3D model of the mountain which forms the foundation for the storytelling in this experience. Layered on the map is a timeline of three decades of vegetative regrowth, which shows how quickly plant-life is recovering and where.
The unique biological responses in each zone are revealed through a collection of stories recounted by field scientists. While watching and listening to the video interviews visitors can navigate through archival photographs and footage that help illuminate the return to life. The hundreds of images in the program show the mountain from all angles, from each disturbance zone, and from each distinct phase of biological recovery. As new discoveries and research are collected, they can be added to the program to keep it fresh and accurate. From woodpeckers finding homes in trees killed by the blast to vines that survived for seven years buried beneath tephra, the mountain continues to tell a story of transformation, resiliency, and rebirth.
Press & Awards“On the web: Mount St. Helens goes online to reach the masses,” Earth Magazine, September 2013
The new website explores the anatomy of this and older eruptions with a clean, appealing aesthetic that is light on words and heavy on imagery — an effective combination. But the site also allows users to observe something they could not see by visiting the volcano in person: the slow return of life that has proved to be the enduring scientific gift of Mount St. Helens over the last three decades.NAI Media Awards, National Association of Interpretation, Winner, Interactive Design Award, October 2012KGW TV, Featured Video, May 10, 2011
The new touchscreens showcase lots of never-before-seen photos and much more.“Mount St. Helens exhibits spotlight return of life after 1980 eruption,” The Columbian, Kathie Durban, May 10, 2011
Looking for a reason to visit Mount St. Helens on the 31st anniversary of its cataclysmic 1980 eruption? Here’s one: A new interactive touch-screen exhibit that lets you track the phenomenal return of plants and animals to the ash-gray landscape surrounding the volcano in the past three decades.
Part of SapientRazorfish /© 2017 Second Story, Inc.
- Lead Designer
- Chris Dewan
- Information Designer
- Michael Godfrey
- Map Designer
- Matt Sundstrom
- Art Production
- Sara Siri
- Technology Director
- Thomas Wester
- Zach Doe
- Technology Coordinator
- Sam Jeibmann
- 3-D Modeling
- Matt Arnold
- Heather Daniel
- Content Producer
- Michael Neault
- Quality Assurance
- Michael Neault, Jennifer Dolan
- Video Editors
- David Waingarten, Michael Neault