La Soufrière Update #31: Dome Growth Continues

The La Soufrière Volcano, as of 1st February 2021 with a view of the dome from the southwestern crater rim. (UWI SRC/Monique Johnson)

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 satellite images captured on February 5, 2021, allowed for a completely clear view of the crater. The new dome continues to grow with the lateral spreading of approximately 15 meters towards the north-west and south-east.

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.

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

The lead Scientist Dr. Thomas Christopher briefed Cabinet on Wednesday 10th February 2021 on the current situation at the La Soufriere Volcano.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) through its Volcano Disaster Assistance Programme (VDAP) recently donated equipment to build four seismic stations and radios to enhance communications. Three of the stations are solar-powered installations with posthole seismometers. The fourth is a spider seismometer, a device designed for rapid deployment in high-risk locations where human exposure to hazards (e.g. volcanic craters) would be minimized.

This equipment allows for the strengthening of the seismic network placed in locations where there are significant gaps. The spider seismometer will support near crater monitoring. In the event of escalated volcanic activity at La Soufriere, enhanced monitoring would allow scientists to alert NEMO with sufficient time to activate appropriate emergency responses.

NEMO staff has conducted a drive-through in the Gorse and Colonaire communities on Friday 12th February 2021. The purpose of this drive-through was to update residents on the state of the La Soufrière Volcano and to provide information on evacuation procedures and individual preparedness.

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.

Facebook Comments