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Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 16 July-22 July 2008

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 July-22 July 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 July-22 July 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (16 July-22 July 2008)


Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


MVO reported no evidence of lava-dome growth at Soufrière Hills during 11-18 July. Seismic activity remained low. The E talus slope continued to erode, producing minor rockfalls that descended into the Tar River Valley. Following a small swarm of volcano-tectonic earthquakes on 20 July, four eruptive events each produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 2 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. The first two events generated plumes above the Tar River Valley possibly from small pyroclastic flows. Ashfall was reported in Old Towne. Rumbling noises were heard in nearby areas and lightning strikes were observed. The Alert Level remained elevated at 4 (on a scale of 0-5).

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)