Dwight R. Crandell dies at 86; volcanologist helped predict 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens

From the LA Times:

Dwight R. “Rocky” Crandell, a U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist whose persistent tracking of deep layers of mud led to a pioneering reassessment of volcano hazards in the Pacific Northwest, died April 6 at a hospice in Wheat Ridge, Colo., from a heart attack. He was 86….

In 1978, Crandell and his longtime scientific partner, Donal R. Mullineaux, warned in a report that the Mt. St. Helens volcano 150 miles southeast of Seattle could erupt within 20 years. It did, in a furious blast in May 1980, resulting in 57 deaths.

Crandell and Mullineaux’s studies began in the early 1950s, while assigned to map the Puget Sound lowlands southeast of Seattle, where the men overturned what was then the conventional wisdom that the area’s landscape had been shaped mainly by glaciers….

Crandell was born Jan. 25, 1923, in Galesburg, Ill., and earned his “Rocky” nickname while studying geology in college. He received a bachelor’s from Knox College in Galesburg and a doctorate from Yale University. In between, he served in the Army during World War II, fighting in Germany as a lieutenant in a mortar platoon.

He began working for the USGS in 1951 and for most of his career was based near Denver. He did most of his fieldwork on Pacific Northwest ash falls, mudflows and lava extrusions in the summer, then spent winters analyzing the rock and soil samples gathered earlier.