Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 27 October-2 November 2004
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
27 October-2 November 2004
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 October-2 November 2004. 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 continued to be at elevated levels during 22-29 October. The seismic network recorded one volcano-tectonic and 40 hybrid earthquakes. Like the previous week, the increased hybrid earthquake activity was thought to be related to heavy rainfall during the report period. In association with the heavy rainfall, minor mudflow activity was recorded and observed in the Belham River. An observation flight over the volcano on 28 October revealed the continued existence of standing water in the explosion pit produced by the 3 March 2004 event and no evidence of a re-start of lava-dome growth.
Geological Summary. 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.