Montserrat

UPDATE ON THE MONTSERRAT VOLCANO - January 12, 2010

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Increased activities at the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat since mid December 2009 have caused the Hazard Level to rise to Level Four (4). This is the second highest level and covers over two-thirds of the island (see Fig. 1). On December 24, 2009 ash falls were experienced in the unrestricted access areas to the north of the island.

At 2:49 pm on Friday 8th January 2010 a large pyroclastic flow forming event occurred at Soufriere Hills volcano. A collapsing fountain of tephra, associated with ballistic fragments, was observed at the start of the event on the northeastern side of the volcano (very similar in character to those which occurred in Summer 1997). Large pyroclastic flows moved both to the northeast, reaching the sea down Whites Bottom Ghaut and to within a few hundred metres of the sea down Tuitts Ghaut. Flows also moved to the northwest down Tyers Ghaut, and into the Belham Valley. These flows reached as far as approximately 300 m upstream of the old Belham crossing near Air Studios. Pyroclastic flows also moved to the west towards Plymouth, although it is presently unclear whether they actually reached the sea. Flows also travelled down the Tar River Valley. The event lasted about 11 minutes and seismicity returned to background levels rapidly. There was no precursory seismicity associated with the event. Only ashfall has been reported in inhabited areas on the northwestern side of the volcano (pyroclastic flows at Fig 2).

This was followed by the most recent but small explosion which occurred at 8:27pm on January 10, 2010 at the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat. Seismicity has now returned to background level. There was ash fall-out in some inhabited areas. MVO is continuing to monitor the situation.