La Soufrière Update #21: Area of Burnt Vegetation Expands

Burnt vegetation along the crater and flanks of the La Soufrière Volcano, St Vincent as acidic gases affect the area. (RBS Broadcasting, SVG)

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.

Close observations of the volcano were made at the Belmont Observatory during most of the day according to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) in St. Vincent on Friday 22nd January 2021. Gas emissions from the dome were consistent throughout the day.

The area of burnt vegetation continues to creep downslope and has now expanded towards the top eastern rim of the crater.

The monitoring team spent the day packing up from its base of operations in Georgetown and moving back to the Belmont Observatory. At Belmont, equipment was tested and preparations made for a planned attempt to install additional monitoring equipment close to the summit of the volcano. These would include a camera and tiltmeter. 

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 National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) will be doing a drive through the areas in the Red Volcano Hazard Zone from Georgetown to Magum on Saturday 23rd January 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.

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)
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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