La Soufrière Update #44: Volcanic-Tectonic Earthquakes Stop, For Now

March 23rd 2021. Right side of the new dome showing the spread along the crater floor. New material is now close to the fumarole along the old dome. Dome volume now estimated to be 13.13 million m3 and is 912 m length, 243 m width and 105 m in height. Photo credit: UWI-SRC

The right side of the new dome showing the spread along the crater floor. New material is now close to the fumarole along the old dome as of March 23rd, 2021 (UWI SRC)

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 (NEMO), in their latest bulletin, advised that the new dome continues to grow towards the Leeward and Windward sides of the Volcano with the most active gas emissions being at the top of the new dome, as well as the contact areas between the pre-existing 1979 and 2020/21 domes.

The period of elevated volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes which began on 23rd March 2021 stopped on March 26th, 2021. Since then, the only seismic activity being recorded is small low-frequency events associated with the dome’s growth. These kinds of events were dominant before March 23rd, 2021. Their rate of occurrence does not appear to have changed as a result of the volcano-tectonic earthquake swarm.

A drone survey of the dome conducted on March 19th indicates that approximately 6,291,084 cubic meters of new material (nearly double in size), has been added to the dome since the last survey on February 12th.

Measurements of carbon dioxide in the soil were conducted on the lower Windward sides of the volcano and fieldwork was carried out in the lower parts of the Wallibou river today.

The seismic station at Fancy was successfully repaired by technicians at the Soufriere Monitoring Unit on Friday, March 26. This station is once again streaming data into the monitoring network.

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.

NEMO is also encouraging residents especially persons living in communities close to the volcano to heighten their preparedness in the event that it becomes necessary to evacuate at short notice.

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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