Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 10 August-16 August 2005
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 August-16 August 2005
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2005. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 August-16 August 2005. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Volcanic and seismic activity at Soufrière Hills remained at elevated levels during 5-12 August. The volcano's seismic network recorded three volcano-tectonic, three hybrid, and five long-period earthquakes. It also recorded 14 rockfall signals. Periodic ash venting continued during the report period, with a vigorous episode on 6 August sending a plume to ~1.8 km above the volcano (or ~9,400 ft. a.s.l.). Evidence of uplift and fracturing were observed on the crater floor, and an area of blocky lava resembling a small lava dome was observed. Due to poor visibility further observations will be necessary to determine if the feature is a new dome or was caused by the collapse, or uplift, of old dome rock.
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.