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Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 1 May-7 May 2002

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 May-7 May 2002
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 May-7 May 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (1 May-7 May 2002)


Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Volcanism at Soufrière Hills during 26 April-3 May remained at high levels. The lava dome continued to grow on the E side of the dome complex. Numerous rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows occurred at the E face of the dome as a result of material spalling off of the active extrusion lobe. Pyroclastic-flow activity was confined mainly to the upper part of the Tar River Valley, although several flows reached the pyroclastic fan at the mouth of the valley, where it disgorged into the sea. SO2 emission rates decreased slightly during the report week.

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.

Sources: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)