Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 26 April-2 May 2006
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 26 April-2 May 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, 26 April-2 May 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 during 21-28 April revealed that lava extrusion continued. Dome growth occurred over a sector extending SW to NE. The eastward facing lobe continued to grow on the NE side of the dome and a central spine was observed on 28 April. Small rockfalls and pyroclastic flows continued to initiate from the active E flank of the dome, adding to the talus in the upper reaches of the Tar River Valley. Rockfalls were accompanied by minor ash venting. Thermal images taken on 27 April indicated some very hot (in excess of 400°C) areas on the E flank of the dome. During the report period seismicity was dominated by rockfalls, as has been the case throughout the on-going phase of dome growth. The sulfur-dioxide flux averaged 520 metric tons per day, close to the long-term average for the entire eruption.
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.