The effusive eruption, ongoing fumarolic activity, expansion of the new dome, and increased seismic activity continue at La Soufriere volcano on St Vincent and the Grenadines. The country remains on Orange Alert.
(By Ernesto Cooke) As the new dome grows, parts of it will become unstable and result in rockfall.
Lead scientist Dr Thomas Christopher says if the domes grow slowly, there would not be constant rockfalls since there would be less instability. However, if the growth rate were to pick up naturally, there would be more rockfalls.
Monitoring the rate of rockfall can be an excellent way to tell how fast the dome is growing.
Dr Christopher said the occurrence of rockfalls does not indicate an explosive eruption of any kind; it merely tells us the dome is growing.
“Equipment placed around the country will give the team an indication as to what is happening in terms of rumblings, earthquakes or rockfalls”.
Dr Christopher says when a volcano is erupting, it generates earthquakes and it pumps outgas.
He says that the information collected from the earthquakes, degassing, and dome volume would give the team a clear idea of what the volcano is doing and what may occur.
To date, there is no permanent degassing equipment on the island.
The latest survey shows that the new dome is just under 6million cubic meters, which means it added one million cubic meters in 12 days.
“On average it was doing about 1 million cubic meters every eight days, so there is a slight slowing of the rate, however that is not significant for us to say there is a change in what the system is doing”, Christopher stated.
“We only measure once per week, so if we ramp it up there would be fewer gaps so we would see how it is varying”.
Is The Danger Increasing Or Decreasing
Dr Thomas Christopher lead scientist monitoring the la Soufriere volcano says that based on the volcano’s configuration and how the eruption is progressing, the danger has not increased to the population in the immediate vicinity since the dome is contained.
In an interview with UWI SRC on the 15th, Christopher said there is also currently no danger of an explosion at this time due to the slow growth rate of the dome.
” We do not see any other evidence like pressurisation, so as far as we are concerned the eruption is an annoying one but it’s not threatening the lives of the people who are living on the lower flanks of the volcano right now”.
The only danger it will pose to persons are those who decide to go up at the summit, and down into the crater, that is where the threat is, Dr Christopher said.
The lead scientist says the people on the volcano’s flanks are in no more danger than they were at the start of the eruption.
How much longer will this continue
“One of the things we say in the community is that the longer it goes on for, is the longer you expect it to go on”.
Those were the words echoed by Dr Christopher as to when there could be an explosive eruption.
“We need to understand that these systems are quite complex and much larger than we imagine, the question is can it generate enough energy to erupt the magma underneath”.
La Soufriere last erupted in 1979.