Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 20 February-26 February 2002
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 February-26 February 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, 20 February-26 February 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During 15-22 February, volcanism was generally high at Soufrière Hills. Lava-dome growth continued to be focused on the E sector. Activity increased during the second half of the report period; near-continuous rockfalls and minor pyroclastic flows traveled down the volcano's E flank. Minor rockfalls were also observed on the N flank of the active lava dome. Minor episodes of ash venting occurred from the summit of the dome, and on a number of evenings large parts of the summit were incandescent. SO2emission rates decreased during the report period; on 16 February 600-780 metric tons were measured, while on 19 February 90-130 metric tons were measured.
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.