Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) — 28 May-3 June 2008
Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 May-3 June 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Soufriere Hills (United Kingdom) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 May-3 June 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
16.72°N, 62.18°W; summit elev. 915 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
MVO reported that an explosion at Soufrière Hills on 29 May produced an ash plume to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. which drifted SW and generated a pyroclastic flow. The explosion had no precursory seismicity and was heard in multiple areas to the NW. The pyroclastic flow descended a few hundred meters to the W. Observations during an overflight the following day suggested that the explosion and pyroclastic flow originated from the Gages vent.
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.