La Soufrière Venting Steam From Several Locations At The Crater

Two steam vents seen at the La Soufrière Volcano (Professor Richard Robertson, UWI SRC, April 26th 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 the latest scientific advisory from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI SRC), seismic activity at La Soufrière, St Vincent has remained low since the tremor associated with the explosion and ash venting around noon on 22nd April.

The SRC added that only a few long-period, hybrid and volcano-tectonic earthquakes were recorded and there was no further tremor.

Volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes represent the brittle failure of rock – similar to that of tectonic quakes that occur along tectonic faults. Long-period (LP) earthquakes are caused by cracks resonating as magma and gases move toward the surface. As the name suggests, a hybrid earthquake is somewhat a mixture between a VT and an LP. They tend to have impulsive starts but also contain a significant amount of low-frequency signals. They are thought to represent magma making its way to the surface at shallow depths and are often associated with periods of rapid dome growth. 

An observation flight took place today in a fixed-wing aircraft at about 11:30 AM. Visibility was poor, with clouds blocking the crater for much of the time. White steam could be seen venting near-continuously from several locations on the crater floor. No dome was visible, although a spine could be seen through the clouds.

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.

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