Scientist Says La Soufriere Is Reproducing The 1902 Eruption, Destruction Ahead

Explosive Eruptions Continue At La Soufriere Volcano On The Caribbean Island Of St Vincent 

(By Ernesto Cooke) – In addition to the ash fall, there is now evidence that pyroclastic flows are occurring with La Soufriere’s eruptions.

Geologist Richard Robertson said a video obtained by his team showed an event flow in a previous eruption not associated with explosions on Saturday into Sunday.

Robertson said the communities in the RED Zone would not only have to survive the ash, but now there is the potential for them to be destroyed.

“These flows are moving mass of destruction; we have re-entered the 1902 eruption period”.

Robertson said the instruments show that the activity at La Soufriere is not waning; there might be a break and then another period of the current activity.

“The ongoing activity and pattern are similar to the 1902 eruption, it means that the eruptions will cause more damage and destruction, but it also means that you have a safe place in the south of the country”, Robertson said. 

Robertson said that there is likely to be more ash-fall than the pyroclastic flows. He said that Vincentians could expect more explosions today.

In speaking to the island-wide power outage from late Saturday night into Sunday, Robertson said if ash accumulates on the high tension wires, they act as conductors and place the system under pressure, eventually leading to an outage.

Simon Carn, Professor and Volconaligist at MTU, said in a Twitter post that an explosion at La Soufriere at 05:00 UTC looked stronger and generated significant lightning seen in satellite data with GLM Energy Density. 

The La Soufrière eruption continued overnight on April 10-11. 

Carn said the explosive events occur with a significant periodicity; every 1.5-2 hours, satellite image also shows that these explosions are still producing SO₂ (red). 

According to USGS, when sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other gases are emitted from a volcano, they create a Vog (volcanic smog), a visible haze comprised of the gas aerosol, tiny particles and acidic droplets.

He said emissions of SO₂ at LaSoufrière is already the largest in the Eastern Caribbean in the ‘satellite era’ (since 1979). More significant than any of the explosive events measured during the eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano (Montserrat) since 1995.

1902 Eruption

Retrospective analysis of the contemporary colonial and scientific records of a major explosive eruption of the Soufrière of St Vincent from 1902 to 1903 reveals how this significant and prolonged event presented challenges to the authorities charged with managing the crisis and its aftermath.

The eruption affected the same parts of the island that had been impacted by prior explosive eruptions in 1718 and 1812, and hurricanes in 1831 and 1898, with consequences that disproportionately affected those working in and around the large sugar estates.

The official response to the eruption, both in terms of short-term relief and remediation, was significantly accelerated by the existence of mature plans for land reform following the collapse of the sugar market.

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