Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 14 April-20 April 2010
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 April-20 April 2010
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 April-20 April 2010. 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 9-16 April activity at Soufrière Hills remained low. Several rockfalls occurred on the W side of the lava dome on 15 April, and a small pyroclastic flow occurred on the Gages fan on 16 April; both were probably caused by heavy rainfall. The rain also generated lahars (mudflows) on several flanks. On the afternoon of 13 April large lahars occurred in the Belham valley, creating two large fans at the coast. Many of the lahars were hot with abundant associated steam and geysering.
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.