New Dome Forms At La Soufriere, Experts Cannot Predict Eruption

Increased Activity At La Soufriere – St Vincent

(Kingstown) – With increased activity at La Soufriere volcano on the Southern Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines, its Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves along with officials from UWI -Seismic Unit updated the nation on Tuesday 29th December, 2020.

The UWI officials noted that La Soufriere is currently going through a stage of effusive eruptions.

No prediction can be made at this time if La Soufriere will move from the effusive stage to an explosive one.

An eruption dominated by the outpouring of lava onto the ground is often referred to as an effusive eruption (as opposed to the violent fragmentation of magma by explosive eruptions).

The UWI Seismic Unit officials noted that activity has been taking place at the volcano since November, however, they were within the normal of seismic activity for La Soufriere.

On  27th December a hot spot was seen on NASA Satellite above the volcano. The image was in the middle of the crater and from since Monday the hot-spot or heat source has continued.

The officials further noted that there is an emission of magma on the northwestern side of La Soufriere where a new dome is growing next to the existing one.

While the La Soufriere Volcano is within the range to have an explosive eruption based on historical data, the officials further stated that for such information to be given with any certainty more data will be needed.

The Minister of National Security in Trinidad has authorized three officials from UWI Seismic Unit for travel to St Vincent. Trinidad borders are currently closed due to COVID -19.

The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO)  and UWI Seismic Unit will be working to place more instruments at La Soufriere in the quickest time possible.

The system in SVG is predicated to give citizens at least 48 hrs warning.

La Soufriere violently erupted in 1718, 1812,1902, 1971, and 1979.

The Saint Vincent eruption of 6 May 1902, just hours before the eruption of Mount Pelée on Martinique, killed 1,680 people.

The last recorded eruption was in April 1979; thanks to advance warning there were no casualties.

Further Points

1. There is currently an Effusive eruption at La Soufriere SVG similar to 1971/72.

2. An effusive eruption is a type of volcanic eruption in which lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground. There are two major groupings of eruptions: effusive and explosive. Effusive eruption differs from explosive eruption. In explosive eruption, magma is violently fragmented and rapidly expelled from a volcano.

3. In an effusive eruption, magma can continue to ooze and go quiet or it can turn explosive.

4. Increased activities recorded since November 1st but were considered within normal range up until December.

5. Mid December there was observation of physical changes . Satellite images indicated a hot spot in late December.

6. The authorities confirmed that there is a dome building on one side of the volcano. There will be emissions of magma, rock and also of sulfur. The dome is currently emitting strong gas or steam and magma.

7. It needs to be monitored so the authorities are going to install more instrument and will deploy a team on the ground in SVG to monitor daily in a more precise way

8. At relatively short notice, there might be an order to evacuate high risk areas if an explosive eruption is likely to occur based on data. Residents are asked to prepare just in case but there’s no evacuation order at this time

9. There’s no timing to predict if the volcano will turn explosive.  The current alert level is orange (3rd of 4 levels).

10. All recreational visit to the volcano have been suspended with immediate effect

11. Based on the historic trend, the volcano erupts every 100 years so it’s likely and expected to occur at this time given the last explosive eruption was 1979.

12. The authorities will be monitoring over the next few weeks or months and it may wake up any time but it will be monitored. Some species sense the earth vibrations and frequency inaudible by humans so they will respond and they should be observed.

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Comments (1)

  1. Early in the morning we see this little new volcano-hill in the crater, that hasn’t been there the evening before. To that time it is maybe 8 Meters high. It must have risen between 11 PM and 6 AM on the 27th. It develops more vapor from hour to hour. It came silently but suddenly.