New scientific team: Dr. Thomas Christopher (Volcanologist -Geochemistry & Petrology), Mrs. Monique Johnson Lynch (Project Manager Volcano Ready Communities Project), Dr. Michal Camejo-Harry (Volcanologist – Petrology & Ground Deformation), and Mr. Garth Mannette (Electronics) (Photo: UWI SRC)
|Present La Soufrière Alert Level:||ORANGE||There 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.|
A new team has arrived on the ground in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to monitor the La Soufrière Volcano, which has been erupting effusively since December 27th, 2020.
The new team is composed of Dr. Thomas Christopher (Volcanologist -Geochemistry & Petrology), Mrs. Monique Johnson Lynch (Project Manager Volcano Ready Communities Project), Dr. Michal Camejo-Harry (Volcanologist – Petrology & Ground Deformation), and Mr. Garth Mannette (Electronics).
According to Dr. Thomas Christopher, one of the UWI SRC scientists based at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and now in St. Vincent leading the new scientific team, the UWI SRC is rotating staff in and out based on expertise.
In an interview with the UWI SRC’s Education and Outreach Manager, Stacey Edwards, Dr. Christopher explained, “Whoever is on the ground at any point in time here would be bringing a different set of expertise with them while they’re here.”
Dr. Camejo-Harry is an expert in ground deformation and petrology. Dr. Christopher also revealed that she has been doing work in getting the EDM (Electronic Distance Measurement) reflectors set up and was “pleased to say we actually got a hit from the target yesterday [February 2nd] from one of the surveyors while on the summit.” Dr. Camejo-Harry is also working on “beefing up” the GPS network, ensuring that the network is where it needs to be.
Mrs. Monique Johnson Lynch is the project manager for the Volcano Ready Communities Project. According to Dr. Christopher, “she’s been quite useful in terms of helping us trying to get the observatory where it is, doing all the paperwork and that sort of stuff. One of the things we’re trying to put in place is a procedures list for staff. For instance, if there’s an inexperienced person here and there is an event, they can refer to the procedures and know exactly what steps to take and who to call and what to say to them.”
Mr. Garth Mannette is also the new technician on the ground.
The team replaces Professor Richard Robertson, instrumentation engineer Lloyd Lynch and engineering technician Ian Juman who returned to Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday.
Before their departure, Robertson and his team held a briefing session to update the new team on the work completed on the monitoring network and the way forward.
Scientists on the island will continue to be supported by the National Emergency Management Organization in St. Vincent, staff associated with the Soufriere Monitoring Unit, and other staff and scientists based at the UWI SRC and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Belmont Observatory To Be Manned 24/7
The Belmont Observatory for the La Soufrière Volcano is located on the Leeward side of St. Vincent. During the 1979 volcanic crisis, the government established the old army officer’s house to be used by scientists to monitor the volcano.
At the beginning of the unrest in 2020, when scientists first arrived, it did not have the facilities for people to stay in or for people to sleep. Scientists traveled back and forth between the Observatory and Chateaubelair, where they sought lodging. Still, the operations base has remained at Belmont, where data was and continues to be collected.
As of February 6th, 2021, the Belmont Observatory is now being occupied permanently by the Lead Scientist and the monitoring network is being observed on a 24 hour basis.
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.
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.
Official information will originate from St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Emergency Management Organization and the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center.