Scientists Collect Lava Samples From La Soufrière

Geologist, Professor Richard Robertson, collects rock samples from the new dome in the crater at La Soufriere on Saturday 16th January 2021. Strict volcano safety protocols have been enacted to facilitate the scientific team's expedition to the crater as changes in volcanic activity can occur at any time. (UWI SRC)

Geologist, Professor Richard Robertson, collects rock samples from the new dome in the crater at La Soufriere on Saturday 16th January 2021. Strict volcano safety protocols have been enacted to facilitate the scientific team’s expedition to the crater as changes in volcanic activity can occur at any time. (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.

The scientific team, from the UWI Seismic Research Center (UWI SRC), Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and the Soufriere Monitoring Unit, has successfully and safely collected rock samples from the new lava dome at the La Soufrière Volcano.

According to the UWI SRC, analysis of the composition of these rocks will provide valuable information on whether the new dome is comprised of older material (related to the 1979 eruption) or fresh material from greater depths.

This will complement data gained from other monitoring techniques, allowing scientists to better understand how the current eruption may unfold.

Based on initial assessment of the rocks collected and La Soufrière’s eruptive history, the lava effused from the new dome is likely basaltic andesite lava with clear crystals. Analysis of the bulk rock and crystal compositions will give scientists clues to changes that have happened since 1979 and will also provide insight into current magmatic processes to complement the data that scientists are receiving from other monitoring techniques.

The team, according to the SRC, will be based at the summit for most of today with continued work on the seismic station installation and volcanic gas sampling.

Please note that all safety protocols were observed. #monitoring #LaSoufrière #svg #stilldangerous #volcanooutreach #UWI #uwiseismic

Posted by UWI Seismic Research Centre on Friday, January 15, 2021

The Centre reiterated that all volcano safety protocols were observed for this expedition inclusive of heat suits, gas masks, a helicopter on standby, and close monitoring of seismic stations at the UWI-SRC and Montserrat Volcano Observatory headquarters to detect any changes in activity.

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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