La Soufrière Update #17: Lava Dome Continues To Grow

La Soufrière Volcano, St Vincent as the new lava dome continues to grow According to NEMO, The black areas in the photo are likely burnt vegetation caused by contact of growing dome of hot material (lava) and abundant low lying shrubs in the crater. (NEMO/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.

Low cloud cover and frequent periods of rain at the volcano throughout most of today hampered visual observations and fieldwork according to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) in St. Vincent 18th update. Conditions eased briefly to allow Mr. Lloyd Lynch and Ian Juman to be dropped off at the monitoring station on the upper flank of the volcano where they completed most of the installation. The team would make one final visit to the site tomorrow, conditions permitting, to complete the setup.

View of dome on 18th January 2021. The black areas in the photos are likely burnt vegetation caused by contact of growing dome of hot material (lava) and abundant low lying shrubs in the crater

Posted by NEMO St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday, January 18, 2021

Visual observations and a quick aerial photography survey over the dome in the afternoon by Dr. Stinton indicate that growth continues but appears to be mainly towards the north along the moat. The dome appears to be developing a profile that looks more like an airplane wing, with the steep side of the dome facing the south and the gentler sloping sides towards the north. There appeared to have been little increase in the height of the dome.

The dome continues to increase in height, to spread laterally, and to emit volcanic gases. The areas of most active gas emissions were noted to be the contact areas between the pre-existing 1979 dome and the 2020-21 dome and the top of this new dome.

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.

Members of Staff of NEMO and Professor Richardson Robertson were in the villages of Chateaubelair and Fitz-Hughes on the Leeward side of the island today, updating residents via PA system, on current activities at the volcano, preparedness in the family and the meeting points in each community in the event that an evacuation order is issued. This activity will continue tomorrow in the Petit Bordel, Rose Bank, Rose Hall and Troumaca areas.

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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