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Montserrat: The Soufriere Hills Volcano

29/04/2012

The Soufrière Hills volcano (French Sulphur Hills) is an active complex stratovolcano with many lava domes forming its summit on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. After a long period of dormancy, it became active in 1995, and has continued to erupt ever since.
Its eruptions have rendered more than half of Montserrat uninhabitable, destroying the capital city, Plymouth, and causing widespread evacuations: about two thirds of the population left the island.

The volcano is andesitic in nature and the current pattern of activity includes periods of dome growth, punctuated by brief episodes of dome collapse which result in pyroclastic flows, ash venting, and explosive eruption.

Soufriere Hills volcano erupting in 1995. Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat._Barry Voight. Original uploader was Chhe at en.wikipedia_National Science Foundation website_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SoufriereHillsVolcano.jpgSoufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat erupting in 1995. Photo Barry Voight.

On 5 February 2010, a vulcanian explosion simultaneously propelled pyroclastic flows down several sides of the mountain, and on 11 February 2010, a partial collapse of the lava dome sent large ash clouds over sections of several nearby islands including Guadeloupe and Antigua.
Inhabited areas of Montserrat itself received very little ash accumulation through either event.
Soufriere Hills volcano @ wiki

The Soufriere Hills Volcano continues to smoke...

The Soufriere Hills Volcano continues to smoke 16 years after the initial 1995 eruption. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Montserrat (/mɒntsəˈræt/) is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies.
This island measures approximately 16 km (9.9 mi) long and 11 km (6.8 mi) wide, giving 40 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline.
Montserrat is nicknamed the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and for the Irish ancestry of some of its inhabitants.

Montserrat’s Georgian era historic capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island’s population was forced to flee because of an eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano that began on July 18, 1995.
The eruption continues today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the areas around Plymouth, including its docking facilities and the former W. H. Bramble Airport, the remnants of which were buried by flows from volcanic activity on February 11, 2010.
An “exclusion zone” extending from the south coast of the island north to parts of the Belham Valley has been imposed because of the size of the existing volcanic dome and the resulting potential for pyroclastic activity.
Present visitors are not permitted entry into the exclusion zone, but an impressive view of the destruction of Plymouth can be seen from the top of Garibaldi Hill in Isles Bay.
Relatively quiet since early 2010, the volcano continues to be closely monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

While construction proceeds, the centre of government rests on a new town at Little Bay in the north of the island.
Montserrat @ wiki

Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat Island (NA...

Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat Island (NASA, International Space Station Science, 10/11/09) (Photo credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center)

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