La Soufrière Update #49: Disaster Alert Declared For SVG As Increased Steam Seen Above Volcano

Increased steam emitted from the La Soufrière Volcano

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 steaming/smoking at the La Soufriere Volcano has increased over the last few hours.

The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI SRC), is also advising of heightened activity at the La Soufrière Volcano.

The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines today declared a disaster alert prompted by a change in the eruptive activity at the La Soufriere volcano within the last few hours. The declaration was made during a press conference held in Kingstown this afternoon. Details of the change in activity at the volcano were outlined during an 11am Cabinet meeting where ministers were briefed on the state of the volcano by The UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) Geologist Prof. Richard Robertson, current Scientific Team Lead on island. Head of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) Ms. Michelle Forbes and Director of The UWI-SRC, Dr. Erouscilla Joseph also attended virtually.

On April 8th at approximately 3:00 AM local time, a volcanic tremor (VT) was observed by scientists based at the Belmont Observatory in St. Vincent. This first band of tremors was later followed by subsequent bands at 5:30 AM, 8:00 AM, 10:15 AM, and 1 PM.

This type of seismic signal is usually associated with the movement of magma and fluids close to the surface. Clouds of steam could also be seen from the observatory during periods of tremor.

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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