Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 16 May-22 May 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 May-22 May 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 May-22 May 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
MVO reported that during 11-18 May volcanic activity increased, with about twice the number of rockfalls than the previous week. Most of the rockfalls were small and were observed to the SW of the summit, N of the town of Galway's. Growth of the lava dome was concentrated in the S sector of the volcano above White River. A new lobe of lava was observed in the area, although the rate of growth appeared to be low. Sulfur dioxide flux remained low. Most of Montserrat received very light ashfall throughout the week as a result of changeable winds.
Geologic Background. The complex, dominantly andesitic Soufrière Hills volcano occupies the southern half of the island of Montserrat. The summit area consists primarily of a series of lava domes emplaced along an ESE-trending zone. The volcano is flanked by Pleistocene complexes to the north and south. English's Crater, a 1-km-wide crater breached widely to the east by edifice collapse, was formed about 2000 years ago as a result of the youngest of several collapse events producing submarine debris-avalanche deposits. Block-and-ash flow and surge deposits associated with dome growth predominate in flank deposits, including those from an eruption that likely preceded the 1632 CE settlement of the island, allowing cultivation on recently devegetated land to near the summit. Non-eruptive seismic swarms occurred at 30-year intervals in the 20th century, but no historical eruptions were recorded until 1995. Long-term small-to-moderate ash eruptions beginning in that year were later accompanied by lava-dome growth and pyroclastic flows that forced evacuation of the southern half of the island and ultimately destroyed the capital city of Plymouth, causing major social and economic disruption.