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Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 7 February-13 February 2001

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 February-13 February 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 February-13 February 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (7 February-13 February 2001)

Soufriere Hills

United Kingdom

16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The MVO reported that during 2 to 9 February activity at the Soufrière Hills volcano was slightly higher than during the previous week as lava dome growth continued. Seismic activity remained similar to the previous week, although it increased towards the end of the report week. Rockfall activity was low during the beginning of the week, but significantly increased beginning on 6 February; only 9 rockfalls were recorded on 5 February, while 70 were recorded on 6 February. Brief observations revealed that volcanic activity remained concentrated on the E side of the lava dome and that two large near-vertical spines stood on the dome's summit. By 8 February new pyroclastic-flow deposits were emplaced at the head of Tuitt's Ghaut ~300 m to the N of the dome. The Washington VAAC reported that throughout the week low-level (up to ~2.1 km a.s.l.) ash clouds, presumably produced by rockfalls, and periodic hot-spot activity were visible on GOES-8 imagery.

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)