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Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 6 October-12 October 2010

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 October-12 October 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, 6 October-12 October 2010. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (6 October-12 October 2010)


Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


MVO reported that during 1-8 October activity from the Soufrière Hills lava dome was at a low level. A pyroclastic flow traveled W down Gages Valley and into Spring Ghaut on 2 October. Several lahars flowed down the Belham valley to the NW. According to the Washington VAAC, MVO reported that an ash plume rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. The next day an ash plume seen in satellite imagery drifted 55 km WNW and NW. A few hours later an area of ash at an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. was seen 140 km WNW. On 11 October a diffuse steam-and-gas plume drifted NNW. The Hazard Level remained at 3.

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)