Mount St Helens tapered off its activity

Government scientists said that volcanic activity on Washington state's Mount St Helens had started to taper off and downgraded their safety warning on Wednesday, following nearly two weeks of seismic activity and steam eruptions.

"Evidently we've gone through a major change here," said Willie Scott, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey or USGS, "We no longer think that an eruption is imminent in minutes or hours."

Decreased earthquake activity, lower rockfall and mild steaming all led to the decision to lower the agency's warning level to the second highest level of "increased activity," Scott told reporters at task force headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, informs Independent Online.

The supposition is that the majority of the thick rock barring the magma's rise in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>crater has been broken up, so there's less rumbling as the magma moves up.

Nonetheless, the magma is still beneath the surface, though how deep is a matter of speculation. Some scientists think it could be right under the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>lava dome in the crater, while others think it could be more than several hundred meters down. None has oozed to the surface yet.

The alert level remains at 2, on a 3-point scale, meaning scientists don't believe lives or property is in immediate peril.

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