Second explosive eruption at St Vincent's La SoufriereFriday, April 09, 2021
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — A second explosive eruption was recorded at La Soufriere volcano on Friday afternoon.
The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) said the explosion, which occurred at 2:45 pm, was smaller than the first which had occurred six hours earlier.
Plume from the afternoon eruption in the north of the island could be seen from the capital, located in the south.
“The vertical ash column is estimated to have gone approximately four kilometres [13,123 feet] into the atmosphere. There is no third eruption as yet — this one is still ongoing fed by successive pulses,” said a statement from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Unit (UWI-SRC) which has had a team stationed on the island since December 2020 when activity at La Soufriere was first detected.
After three months of effusive eruption, magma extrusion, and more recently, tremor and volcano-tectonic seismic activity, La Soufriere moved to an explosive phase on Friday morning at 8:41 am when it erupted, sending an ash plume as high as 29,000 feet into the sky.
Professor Richard Robertson, the lead scientist on the UWI-SRC team, said parts of the country, as far south as Belmont, where the observatory is located, and Barroullie, had been affected by the ash fall although most of the ash has gone to sea.
At a press conference following that explosion, he had put Vincentians on notice that it was likely other eruptions would follow and that the first one might not necessarily be the biggest.
“We won't be surprised if this continues for the next few days, the next few weeks,” he said. “It's necessary for us to watch, monitor it, see whether it's indicating that in this phase it's going to get bigger, smaller, whether it's heading to an end or not, that's what the monitoring will be doing — collecting more data, trying to analyse them and try to find how to track this explosive eruption.”
Professor Robertson, therefore, urged those still in the north east and north west of the island, which would be affected by pyroclastic flow and surges, to take heed of the evacuation order issued by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves late Thursday afternoon and leave the area.
NEMO said Friday afternoon that the evacuation was continuing in earnest, although there were some challenges.
“Heavy ashfall has halted the process somewhat since visibility is extremely poor,” it said.
The UWI-SRC scientific team has cautioned that nearby islands and regional aviation interests can also expect to be impacted by volcanic ash.
“Communities across mainland St Vincent will experience varying degrees of ashfall. The Grenadines may also be affected. The Barbados Meteorological Services report that light ashfall can be expected in approximately two hours. Neighbouring islands of St Lucia and Grenada may also experience ashfall in coming hours,” the team had said after the first explosion.
Professor Robertson said it is estimated that phases of explosive eruption are likely to continue for days and possibly weeks.
La Soufriere volcano last had an explosive event on April 13, 1979 which, like the latest events, fell on the second Friday of April.
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