La Soufrière Update #33: Dome Growing 1.9 Cubic Meters Per Second

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, in their latest bulletin, advised that the overall rate of growth since the onset of dome growth is approximately 1.9 cubic meters per second. For comparison, the new lava dome is growing approximately the size of a concrete mixer truck every 5 seconds.

NEMO continued, “There are no clear indications that the activity is either increasing or decreasing in intensity, but there are periodic changes in the rate at which dome growth is occurring.”

The latest footprint (surface area) of the new dome at La Soufrière from the summit visit on February 12th by UWI SRC. The dome continues to spread along the crater floor and grows in height. (Dr. Adam Stinton/UWI SRC/MVO/Planet Earth Inc.)

As of February 12th, 2021, the new lava dome is approximately 6.83 million cubic meters, a volume that can fill 2,500 Olympic-sized pools or three times the volume of The Great Pyramid of Giza. The lava dome is 90 meters high, 232 meters wide and 618 meters long, spreading along the crater of the La Soufrière Volcano.

Estimates from the UWI SRC on the size of the new lava dome at the La Soufrière Volcano. (UWI SRC)

According to NEMO, all monitoring data indicate that the ongoing effusion (outflow) of magma onto the crater floor continues. In fact, measurements of the gas emissions (releases) from the new dome and a preliminary visual inspection of rock samples collected from the dome indicate new magmatic material from depth, contributing to the lava extrusion now taking place in the crater.

There is also a clear gas plume (column/cloud/trail)from the dome that is damaging the vegetation in the summit areas on the south-west of the volcano.

NEMO staff will be conducting a drive-through in the Colonaire Community on Friday 19th February 2021. The purpose of this drive-through is to update residents on the state of the La Soufrière Volcano and to provide information on evacuation procedures and individual preparedness.

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.

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)

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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