La Soufrière Update #36: Magma Continues To Flow Onto Crater Floor

View of the La Soufrière Volcano crater on 20th February 2021. (NEMO St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

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 ongoing outflow of magma onto the crater floor continues with periodic changes in the rate of dome growth.

The results from UWI SRC’s testing of gas given off by the new dome remain unchanged and continue to consist of water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2,), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

No drone surveys or aerial photographs of the volcano were done due to poor weather conditions. Satellite images on February 23, 2021, confirmed that the dome continues to grow slowly.

Trip to the summit of Feb 18th, 2021 from the Leeward side. The conditions were poor and did not allow for flight observations but the summit camera was replaced. Photo and caption: UWI SRC, MVO, Dr. Thomas Christopher
Trip to the summit of Feb 18th, 2021 from the Leeward side. The conditions were poor and did not allow for flight observations but the summit camera was replaced. Photo and caption: UWI SRC, MVO, Dr. Thomas Christopher

During the last week, the monitoring team began construction of a new seismic station at the National Parks Interpretation Centre at Bamboo Range on the eastern (Windward side) of the volcano.

As of February 12th, 2021, the new lava dome is approximately 6.83 million cubic meters, a volume that can fill 2,500 Olympic-sized pools or three times the volume of The Great Pyramid of Giza. The lava dome is 90 meters high, 232 meters wide and 618 meters long, spreading along the crater of the La Soufrière Volcano.

Estimates from the UWI SRC on the size of the new lava dome at the La Soufrière Volcano. (UWI SRC)
Estimates from the UWI SRC on the size of the new lava dome at the La Soufrière Volcano. (UWI SRC)

A virtual community meeting for the North Leeward Community will be held on Tuesday 2nd March 2021 beginning at 6:00 p.m. The meeting would be carried live on local NBC Radio and VC3 TV (channel 114), NEMO’S Facebook page, UWI tv Global (www.uwitv.org), UWI SRC’s YouTube channel and Grenadines Radio.

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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