La Soufrière Update #29: Larger Dome, More Acidic Gases & More Monitoring

The summit of the La Soufrière Volcano on 24th January 2021 showing the growing dome and burnt vegetation. (Rommel De Freitas)

Present La Soufrière Alert Level:ORANGEThere is a highly elevated level of seismic and/or fumarolic activity or other unusual activity. An eruption may begin with less than twenty-four hours’ notice.

The National Emergency Management Organization, in their latest bulletin, advised that the new dome continues to grow with lateral spreading of material towards the north and south, with a preferred northward growth observed.

The most active gas emissions are at the contact areas between the pre-existing 1979 dome and the 2020-21 dome, as well as the top of the new dome.

The Belmont Observatory is now occupied permanently by the Lead Scientist, and the monitoring network is now being done on a twenty-four-hour basis. The camera installed at the volcano summit on January 24 to monitor changes of the dome was adjusted on February 1st to allow clearer images to be received.

In addition, four (4) GPS stations are currently streaming data to SRC. No Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) was done due to bad weather conditions. The EDM Network is used to assist with measurements of deformation associated with the flanks of the volcano.

Damage to vegetation, from acidic gases emitted from the growing dome, downslope of the summit continues to be observed.

There is NO ‘explosive’ eruption at the La Soufrière volcano at this time. La Soufrière continues to have effusive eruptions, as hot magma reaches the surface at extreme temperatures. This appears in the night as fire or a bright red glow above the crater. As the dome gets higher and closer to the crater’s rim, this phenomenon will continue to be visible on clear nights.

The alert level remains at Orange. The volcano continues to exude magma on the surface and steam can still be observed from the Belmont Observatory. Persons living in areas close to the volcano should expect strong sulfur smells for several days to weeks, depending on changes in wind direction.

The NEMO is reminding the public that no evacuation order or notice has been issued. NEMO continues to appeal to the public to desist from visiting the La Soufrière Volcano and especially going into the crater since doing so is extremely dangerous.

The @uwiseismic and NEMO continue to advise access to the #LaSoufriere Volcano is strictly prohibited at this time….

Posted by Trinidad and Tobago Weather Center on Thursday, January 14, 2021

According to the SRC, the new volcanic dome is extremely dangerous for those in close proximity as it can explode at any time without warning. People have been killed in this way. This warning comes as images from a birthday photoshoot surfaced on social media.

Volcanic Hazard Map for the La Soufrière Volcano, St. Vincent (UWI SRC/NEMO)
Volcanic Hazard Map for the La Soufrière Volcano, St. Vincent (UWI SRC/NEMO)

Official information will originate from St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Emergency Management Organization and the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center.

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