La Soufrière’s Lahars To Continue Into St. Vincent’s 2022 Rainy Season

Lahar at the Rabacca Dry River, St. Vincent after the La Soufrière Volcano eruption. (SVG TV, April 12th, 2021)

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.

According to Professor Richard Robertson, lead scientist from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI SRC), St. Vincent will continue to experience lahars well into the 2022 rainy season.

A lahar is a violent type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. Lahars are extremely destructive. They can flow tens of meters per second, with large flows that tend to destroy any structures in their path.

Professor Robertson pinpointed La Soufrière’s Red Zone and the northern areas of the island of St. Vincent for the highest risk of lahars. He added the scientific team has spoken to the government extensively about the potential for lahar damage. “Yes, the potential for damage and destruction from lahars would continue in St Vincent for quite a long time. And when I say a long time, I would estimate not just this rainy season, but up to 2022”.

Robertson says there are many materials on the hillside of La Soufriere that will be mobilized and potentially cause damage during the rainy season. The scientist said in terms of the effect on the southern communities of St Vincent, there would be minimal or none at all. “Largely, it is going to affect areas on the volcano, and I will guess at most if it affects any area in the South it would depend on if there were heavy deposits of ash.”

Robertson says so far, the area with the highest concentration of ash is on the volcano itself and significant amounts in some communities on the East and West of La Soufriere. “I expect a place like Chateaubelair, Petit Bordel, and also Georgetown may have some damage from lahars because of the amount of ash that has been on the mountains nearby.”

Lahars have already been observed in the Rabacca Dry River and detected via seismic waves.

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)

According to the UWI SRC, the volcano continues to erupt. Its pattern of seismic activity over the last few days is typical of the growth and destruction of lava domes. Explosions with accompanying ashfall, similar to or larger, can occur with little or no warning impacting St Vincent and neighboring islands.

The alert level remains red. The National Emergency Operations Center continues to be fully functional operating on a twenty-four-hour, around-the-clock basis. NEMO will continue to provide regular updates as they continue to monitor the Volcano.

Official information will originate from St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Emergency Management Organization and the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center.

Originally reported by News784

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