Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 10 December-16 December 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 December-16 December 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 December-16 December 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Volcanic activity at Soufrière Hills was at low levels during 5-12 December, with low counts of all types of seismic signals. Visual observations confirmed that no new lava-dome growth occurred in the crater since July 2003, although some old lava-dome material from the crater walls had slumped and wall rocks had degraded due to steaming. Sulfur-dioxide flux measurements varied during the week from 800-900 tons per day at the beginning of the report period to 300-500 tons per day towards the end of the week.
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.