Mount St. Helens on the verge of eruption?!

Scientists have ruled out the possibility of a big eruption at Mount St. Helens soon, based on air samples collected Monday from above the 8,363-foot peak.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists sent up a helicopter to measure concentrations of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide - gases associated with emissions from an &to=' target=_blank>active volcano.

As it turned out, the gases did not exceed normal background levels. That means it's unlikely a slug of molten rock is pushing close to the surface of the volcano and is poised to erupt, Willie Scott, a USGS geologist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., said Tuesday. Seismographs have detected between 4,000 and 5,000 earthquakes on Mount St. Helens since Thursday, informs The News Tribune.

According to the ABC News, small earthquakes rattled Mount St. Helens at the rate of one or two a minute Monday, and seismologists were working to determine the significance of some of the most intense seismic activity in nearly 20 years.

Carbon dioxide and sulfur gas samples collected above the volcano which erupted to devastating effect in 1980 will help scientists figure out what is going on beneath the 925-foot-high dome of hardened lava within the mountain's gaping crater. They want to know whether the quakes are the result of water seeping into the mountain or magma moving under its crater.

St. Helens' May 18, 1980, eruption killed 57 people, leveled hundreds of square miles of forests and dumped volcanic ash across the Northwest.

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