La Soufriere Gases More Acidic, Can Cause Asphyxiation, Corrosive Effect On Skin

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

In its latest report on activity at the La Soufriere volcano, the National Emergency Management Organisation NEMO says the dome’s gas continues to cause damage to vegetation in the hillside areas on the south-western side of the volcano. 

However, the most striking evidence that La Soufriere might be whispering a new tune is in NEMO’s latest bulletin, which states that the gases have become more acidic and has the capacity to cause respiratory harm to human beings.

Even more alarming is that these gases can result in unconsciousness and even asphyxiation.

Asphyxiation:

NEMO’s latest release states that this acidity can also have a corrosive effect on the skin and eyes, even with short exposure.

NEMO calls on citizens to avoid site seeing at the La Soufriere Volcano; persons must pay even greater attention to the warning.

Second Trip To Wallibou River 

According to the release, the team made another visit to the hot springs on the Wallibou River for water sampling, gas and temperature measurements.

Measurements were also undertaken of carbon dioxide in the soil along the Wallibou riverbed.

This is not the first time samples are taken from Wallibou hot springs. An investigation was conducted at the area on Sunday, February 07, 2021, based on a report of fluctuating temperatures and unusual gas smells there. 

The results of that first investigation revealed the presence of hydrogen sulfide. 

Hydrogen sulfide is a chemical compound with a colourless chalcogen hydride gas with a foul odour; it is poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.

Dr Christopher told News784 on February 08 that inhaling gases or anything foul can become poisonous over time; however, the concentration levels at Wallibou does not indicate such.

Thomas said the hot springs is not a dangerous place to be based on what the team found. However, he pointed out that whereas temperatures would have hovered around 38 degrees following the investigation, it hovered at 43 degrees.

He told News784 that the samples taken would give the team a clear idea if the Volcano magma is making contact with water at the springs.

Monotiroing Of La Soufriere

There have been upgrades to monitoring equipment around SVG since a new dome formed at La Soufriere.

A new seismic station was constructed at the National Parks Interpretation Centre at Bamboo Range, on the eastern side of the volcano is operational.

The streaming of data from this into the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) began on March 01, 2021.

A new continuous Global Positioning System(GPS) monitoring station was installed at a Fancy monument.

Work is continuing at the Belmont Observatory on the installation of the seismic data acquisition system.

No Evacuation 

The National Emergency Management Organisation is reminding the public that no evacuation order or notice has been issued.

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