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Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 31 July-6 August 2002

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 July-6 August 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, 31 July-6 August 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (31 July-6 August 2002)


Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Volcanic and seismic activity at Soufrière Hills during 26 July-2 August continued at an elevated level. The swarm of low-amplitude long-period earthquakes that began on 19 July continued, but decreased during the last 3 days of the report period. A flight on 1 August revealed that the new extrusion lobe on the N side of the summit had a broad whaleback form. Growth of the lobe was directed toward the N, giving rise to rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows in the upper parts of Tuitt's Ghaut and White's Ghaut. Torrential rainfall produced mudflows in the Belham Valley in the early hours of 28 August. SO2flux remained low.

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.

Source: Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO)