Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 19 April-25 April 2006
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 April-25 April 2006
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2006. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 19 April-25 April 2006. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Observations of Soufrière Hills' lava dome during 14-21 April suggested that lava extrusion continued. Growth occurred over a sector extending E to N, and on 18 April observers noted a smooth area of the dome resembling a whale's back. Numerous small rockfalls continued from the active eastern flanks of the lava dome, adding to the talus in the upper reaches of the Tar River Valley. Rockfalls were accompanied by minor ash venting. Due to unusual wind conditions, plumes were predominately transported N and NW, shifting to the E on 20 April. As a result of this process, light ashfall occurred over much of Montserrat.
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.