Experts Predict Growth Of New Dome In La Soufriere Volcano

(CMC) — One of the scientists monitoring the La Soufriere volcano, which began erupting effusively one week ago, says residents should remain on high alert, but not panic about the situation.

“… In summary, you may have to remain at a high [alert] level for a long time. You need to keep listening out, you don’t have to get overly concerned … What you need to do is that if the volcano goes explosive, essentially, we need to move off the mountain for a certain period of time until it gets rid of all that explosion. And then at some point, you may be able to come back,” Richard Robertson, a geologist, said during an interview on local radio on the weekend.

Robertson, is among a team of specialists from the Seismic Research Unit at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago that has been dispatched to help monitor the volcano.

“Good or bad, the effusive part in Soufriere has often gone on for longer than the explosive part. So it may go on for a little while and so people need to sort of be prepared for a longer haul — a few weeks, at least, of this going on and, therefore, being at a high level of alert. But don’t get complacent, don’t get overly panicky about the situation but just be prepared that you may have to move or you may not.”

Emergency management officials have been using aircraft to monitor the growth of a new dome, which was discovered last Tuesday in the volcano that last erupted in 1979.

The 1979 event, an explosive eruption that took place on April 13, Good Friday, is said to have resulted in the evacuation of 20,000 people from North Leeward and North Windward.

No lives were lost as a consequence of that eruption, which saw thousands of people spending months in evacuation camps set up mainly in schools and other public buildings.

According to the National Emergency Management Organisation, the alert level remains at orange – the second highest on the four-colour chart, with red, being the highest.

With an orange alert, residents north of Belle Isle and Georgetown have to be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice, as an explosive eruption could occur within 24 hours.