La Soufrière Update #47: 50 Earthquakes Per Hour, On Average, Being Recorded

Dome growth continues as the magma fills the space around the old 1979 dome. The period of elevated volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes which began on 23rd March 2021 and stopped on 26th March 2021. Effusive eruption continues at the volcano. Photo: SMU team

Dome growth continues as the magma fills the space around the old 1979 dome. Effusive eruption continues at the volcano as of April 1st, 2021. (SMU)

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 swarm of Volcano-Tectonic (VT) earthquakes which began at the La Soufrière Volcano at 6:38 AM today continued at a fairly constant rate before starting to decline at about 2:00 p.m. Activities declined significantly at 4:00 PM although small Volcano-Tectonic earthquakes were still being recorded.

The current swarm of Volcano-Tectonic earthquakes has been located at a depth about 6 km below the summit of the La Soufrière Volcano. This is slightly deeper than those recorded between March 23rd and 25th, 2021, located at depths from 3 to 5 km below the summit. (Earlier estimates of these swarms were revised from 10 km to 3 to 5 km).

The largest Volcano-Tectonic earthquake was recorded at 2:16 PM today, with a magnitude of 3.9. There were nine more Volcano-Tectonic earthquakes in the swarm with magnitudes of 3.0 or more.

Today’s swarm of Volcano-Tectonic earthquakes were also much more intense compared to those which occurred during the period March 23rd-25th` and contained many more small earthquakes, with an average rate of about 50 earthquakes per hour compared with 1.5 per hour in March.

There were several reports of earthquakes being felt today in communities close to the La Soufrière Volcano such as Fancy and Chateaubelair.

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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