Scientist Says St Vincent’s La Soufriere Volcano Has Re-Entered An Uncertain Period

St Vincent’s La Soufriere volcano last erupted on April 13th 1979 and rumbled back into life in December of 2020.

(By Ernesto Cooke) – We have re-entered an Uncertain period as it concerns the La Soufriere volcano.

Lead scientist Richard Robertson on Wednesday said the activities currently are associated with the growth of the dome.

He says this may be a good thing as it is familiar territory in terms of monitoring.

“ The downside could mean we are continuing with this dome growth period, with all indications that there is no clear end in sight, so basically we are back into that uncertain period where it can speed up in growth, go explosive or simple stop growing”.

Robertson said the return to a current activity means we may be going on for a more extended period with dome growth, or we may also renter that short active period we recently experienced.

The lead scientist said the current behaviour of La Soufriere is similar and different to activities in 1902, 71 and 79.

“ Similar in the that it has grown a dome. However, the 71, 79 domes grew much faster, this one is moving much slower, it could mean a longer period of growth, however from all indication the rock seems quite stiff and the magma is having a hard time coming out, that may or may not be bad”. Robertson said.

Robertson stated that a few things could occur before and an eruption occurs; however, sometimes they don’t.

“ For an explosive eruption, you are talking about fresh magma with a lot of energy, therefore more gas mixing with what you have now coming to the surface, that could result in more seismic activity, more earthquakes probably similar to what we had or even more, that could be one thing”.

Robertson pointed out that another possible scenario before an eruption is the inflating of the volcano.

“ You could have deformation of the ground, and we expect to pick that up using our GPS points”.

Robertson said that these would not happen in a set pattern before it becomes explosive and reminds the public that sometimes events don’t always occur.

Activity at the La Soufrière Volcano continues to be at a low level dominated by small earthquakes associated with the growth of the lava dome.

The alert level remains at Orange. The National Emergency Management Organisation is reminding the public that no evacuation order or notice has been issued.

The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) is also encouraging residents especially persons living in communities close to the volcano to be prepared in the event that it becomes necessary to evacuate at short notice.

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Comments (2)

  1. Should Schools in the Red and Orange Zones Open on April 12th?

    Due to the uncertainty as to when the volcano may go explosive, is it reasonable to open school for children and teachers living in the red and orange zones areas? As Professor Robertson clearly mentioned already, things can change rapidly and La Soufriere can erupt explosively at short notice. If La Soufriere doesn’t erupt explosively before, what happens if seismic activity changes rapidly and an explosive eruption occurs while the children and teachers are at school? Is it fair for the children to be at school awaiting for their parents or guardians to come and collect them? Is it fair for teachers to have to be waiting at school with the children until the parents and guardians arrive to collect their children? If this happens, this is going to seriously slow down the evacuation process. Children, parents, and teachers may be bathing in ash and other materials on their way hustling to get home and then prepare to evacuate as quickly as possible. I am kindly recommending to the Government and the Ministry of Education to keep schools closed in the red and orange zones areas until the volcano dilemma is over. That’s the most reasonable and wise thing to do. We may end up regretting doing otherwise. Online teaching and learning can continue for the children in the red and orange zones from April 12th. Everyone, please be alert and safe!