Monday, January 11, 2010

Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat - John Seach

Large pyroclastic flows occurred at Soufriere Hills volcano at 2:49 pm on 8th January 2010. The pyroclastic flows were caused by a collapsing tephra column, similar to the events in the summer of 1997. The flows traveled northeast down Whites Bottom Ghaut and reached the sea. The flow which moved down Tuitts Ghaut stopped a few hundred metres from the sea. Pyroclastic flows also traveled northwest down Tyers Ghaut and into the Belham valley. The event lasted 11 minutes and was not preceded by seismic activity. Ashfall occurred on the northwestern side of the volcano. Residents said it was one of the largest eruptions they have witnessed at the volcano, since its reawakening in 1995. At 1:28 am on 10th January there was another explosion at the volcano. The seismic signal lasted 7 minutes. The eruption produced pyroclastic flows which traveled rapidly northeast down White Bottom and Tuitts Ghaut. Flows also moved northwest down Tyers Ghaut and down the Gages valley towards Plymouth. A third smaller explosion occurred at 8:27 pm on 10th January. Scientists don't believe there was a major collapse of the dome, but a significant amount of material was lost. Hazard level 4 remains in place around the volcano, which means there is no access allowed in zone C, and only daytime access to zone B.
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