CDEMA, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency – The alert level for St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ La Soufriere volcano has been elevated to Orange – the third highest of four levels – because of increased activity at the site.
Monitoring systems, satellite imagery and visual observations have confirmed increased seismic and fumarolic activity, strong gas emissions, emergence of a satellite dome on the South-East of the existing volcanic dome and changes to the crater lake.
An effusive eruption within the crater, with visible gas and steam, was also observed on 29 December 2020.
An Orange Level alert means that there is highly elevated seismicity or fumarolic activity, or both, or other highly unusual symptoms. Eruptions may occur with less than 24 hours notice. Monitoring systems are continuously manned and there is regular visual inspection or potential vent areas as well as continuous ground deformation and hydrothermal monitoring.
Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and representatives of the Seismic Research Unit at the UWI St Augustine Campus held a Press Briefing on the volcanic activity on Tuesday 29 December 2020. SVG’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade provided the following Summary of that Briefing:
Update from Press Briefing on the increased seismic activity at the La Soufriere volcano:
1. In early November, there was a report of increased seismic activity at La Soufriere volcano.
2. The largest seismic event was a magnitude 3.3 on December 16th, 2020.
3. On December 27th, there was a hotspot in the crater as noted by a NASA satellite.
4. Earlier today, there was confirmation that there are emissions of magma.
5. There was an explosion of black mass from the pre-existing lake.
6. There is an ongoing eruption coming from that lake.
7. The mass is confined to the crater. The hazard is in the crater.
8. The steam you see inside is gas being released. If you are standing on the crater rim, you will have difficulty breathing. Please do not visit the volcano at this time.
9. If the eruption remains confined there will be no hazard.
10. Essentially, there is a new dome growing on the side of the existing dome.
11. There is an effusive eruption – slow emission of magma. It is not an explosive eruption which is the more dangerous of the two types of eruptions. There will be close monitoring as both can occur together.
12. More data is needed to determine if the effusive eruption will become an explosive eruption. There will be sufficient warning to evacuate if there is increased hazard.
13. The best case scenario is a limited effusive eruption.
14. The dome is not growing; a new dome is being created. A new mountain is being created in the crater.
15. Stuart Young, Minister of National Security in Trinidad and Tobago has confirmed that approval has been granted for a team from UWI Seismic Centre to travel to travel to SVG using an RSS aircraft.