La Soufrière Scientific Update: Persistent Steaming Observed

Timelapse of the La Soufrière Volcano Belmont Observatory, May 17th 2021. (Dr Adam Stinton, MVO/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.

According to the latest scientific advisory from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI SRC), when the cloud is high enough, there is persistent steaming observable from the observatory. Thermal anomalies, indicating high temperatures inside the new crater, continue to be detected by the NASA FIRMS alert system.

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. In the last 24 hours, only a few long-period earthquakes have been recorded.

Long-period volcanic earthquakes are caused by cracks resonating as magma and gases move toward the surface. They are often seen before volcanic eruptions. Their occurrence is also part of the normal background seismicity at some volcanoes, and their occurrence does not necessarily indicate that an eruption is imminent.

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)

The alert level is orange. The volcano continues to be in a state of unrest. Escalation in activity can still take place with little or no warning. Caution should be taken in crossing river valleys on the volcano due to the increased risk of lahars (mudflows) during periods of rainfall on the volcano.

For more information on coping and handling volcanic ash, the UWI SRC is directing people to the International Volcanic Hazard Health Network for volcanic ash resources.

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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