La Soufriere Volcano Erupts On Its 42nd Anniversary

(CMC) – The La Soufriere volcano erupted on Tuesday, 42 years to the day as it commemorates its own anniversary with another explosive episode.

In a brief update posted on its website the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad reported that the eruption began at 6:30 a.m. “and still continues at the time of this post”.

“We continue to monitor and update accordingly,” the SRC said, warning” the volcano is at alert level Red”.

“Following the latest band of tremor, at 1:30 a.m., the long-period earthquakes have steadily become more frequent. Audible venting was heard associated with some periods of tremor and long-period earthquake activity.

“The volcano continues to erupt explosively and has now begun to generate pyroclastic density currents – hot (200°C-700°C), ground-hugging flows of ash and debris. Explosions and accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days impacting St Vincent and neighbouring islands,” the SRC added.

The volcano hadn’t erupted since 1979 and La Soufrière has a history of deadly eruptions. Records show that in 1902, the volcano erupted for nearly eight months.

During a live update press conference on Monday, which was hosted by Barbados’ Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams, volcanologist and director of UWI-SRC, Professor Richard Robertson reminded that the ongoing eruption of La Soufriere volcano is similar to the explosive episodes of the 1902 eruption.

He had also given this warning about the 1902 eruption on Sunday while speaking on St Vincent’s state-owned NBC Radio. The 1902 eruption claimed 1 600 lives at a time when early warning systems and evacuation capabilities were not as advanced.

Robertson, the lead scientist monitoring the volcano, said that while most people are aware of the 1979 eruption, what is currently happening at La Soufriere is more akin to more than a century ago.

He also said on Monday that a time period for the current explosive eruptions at La Soufriere is unclear and episodic explosive eruptions can be expected for up to a year.

The volcano began exploding effusively in December 2020 and moved to explosive eruptions last Friday.