Categorized | Local, News

July 18, 2013, 18th anniversary of Soufriere Hills volcano eruption

view of volcano, hopefully in repose, March 2013

view of volcano, hopefully in repose, March 2013 (TMR)

Yesterday, Thursday, July 18 is a date that Montserratians all over the world and especially those old enough to  remember, the day when volcanic activity was announced. It was a Thursday night, and the next day people reported they heard the rumbling sounds in the mountains, “like a jet plane passing.” It was 18 years ago, in 1995, when Soufriere Hills volcano began erupting.

But no one, not even after months when the scientists might have convinced all that this was a volcano that had been quiet for hundreds of years had come to life, believed or thought that this would be spoken of 18 years later, as being still alive and active.

On Thursday, of those who remembered and thought about it, the wonder is, “will Montserrat ever face a disaster, like this again?”

Everyone will remember something of significance from this eruption that they will remember individually. But it is likely that the one event that would never be forgotten, when on June 25, 1997, pyroclastic flows, (a word that had already become well known) swept northwards from a dome collapse, resulting in the tragic deaths of 19 Montserratians.  Another five persons received serious burn injuries, from the flows and the associated surge clouds.

Montserrat has certainly not recovered from near extinction, and today it is still not known that there are those among the authorities (powers that be) who do not believe that this is still not a possibility. That thought or belief has been the hindrance of any honest and serious effort to develop the north of Montserrat into normal lives for the residents.

It certainly has been the cause of much ‘confusion’ since that belief had never been admitted until 2008, when it was revealed that the time had come to move forward. Today a report of an investigation of the major British support department, shows that efforts have been misguided. It  decided, while, “DFID has worked closely and successfully with the Government of Montserrat to help the island make the transition from the immediate post-disaster emergency to a stable normality, albeit with significant financial support; While a range of strategic documents has been produced, DFID has not yet developed a coherent strategic view of self-sufficiency.”

But according to one report, 18 years on the MVO is reminding residents and visitors alike that even though the volcano has been quiet for more than three years now major activity can still occur at anytime without warning.

The records show that the last activity of any significance according to the MVO occurred in February 2010, where there was a dome collapse to the North East of the volcano. Montserrat Volcano Observatory, scientist Rod Stewart spoke to ZJB radio and gave his report.

“I first came to Montserrat in 1996, and if you’d ask me then would this eruption last for 18 years, I think I would have laughed. I think any volcanologist would have laughed, because most eruptions in the Eastern Caribbean do not last for this length of time. We’re in uncharted territory. We really didn’t expect it to last 18 years but I think Montserrat is now the 4th longest eruption of its kind in sort of the history of known volcanic eruptions, so even then it’s been very difficult to compare it to data from other places.”

He continued and reported on the state of the volcano. “The volcano is still swelling, there is still some moving upwards and even though this is the longest pause by far, it may well end in another period of lava extrusion, so we have to be watching out for that, hopefully it doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does happen.

Leave a Reply

Newsletter

Archives

view of volcano, hopefully in repose, March 2013

view of volcano, hopefully in repose, March 2013 (TMR)

Yesterday, Thursday, July 18 is a date that Montserratians all over the world and especially those old enough to  remember, the day when volcanic activity was announced. It was a Thursday night, and the next day people reported they heard the rumbling sounds in the mountains, “like a jet plane passing.” It was 18 years ago, in 1995, when Soufriere Hills volcano began erupting.

But no one, not even after months when the scientists might have convinced all that this was a volcano that had been quiet for hundreds of years had come to life, believed or thought that this would be spoken of 18 years later, as being still alive and active.

Insert Ads Here

On Thursday, of those who remembered and thought about it, the wonder is, “will Montserrat ever face a disaster, like this again?”

Everyone will remember something of significance from this eruption that they will remember individually. But it is likely that the one event that would never be forgotten, when on June 25, 1997, pyroclastic flows, (a word that had already become well known) swept northwards from a dome collapse, resulting in the tragic deaths of 19 Montserratians.  Another five persons received serious burn injuries, from the flows and the associated surge clouds.

Montserrat has certainly not recovered from near extinction, and today it is still not known that there are those among the authorities (powers that be) who do not believe that this is still not a possibility. That thought or belief has been the hindrance of any honest and serious effort to develop the north of Montserrat into normal lives for the residents.

It certainly has been the cause of much ‘confusion’ since that belief had never been admitted until 2008, when it was revealed that the time had come to move forward. Today a report of an investigation of the major British support department, shows that efforts have been misguided. It  decided, while, “DFID has worked closely and successfully with the Government of Montserrat to help the island make the transition from the immediate post-disaster emergency to a stable normality, albeit with significant financial support; While a range of strategic documents has been produced, DFID has not yet developed a coherent strategic view of self-sufficiency.”

But according to one report, 18 years on the MVO is reminding residents and visitors alike that even though the volcano has been quiet for more than three years now major activity can still occur at anytime without warning.

The records show that the last activity of any significance according to the MVO occurred in February 2010, where there was a dome collapse to the North East of the volcano. Montserrat Volcano Observatory, scientist Rod Stewart spoke to ZJB radio and gave his report.

“I first came to Montserrat in 1996, and if you’d ask me then would this eruption last for 18 years, I think I would have laughed. I think any volcanologist would have laughed, because most eruptions in the Eastern Caribbean do not last for this length of time. We’re in uncharted territory. We really didn’t expect it to last 18 years but I think Montserrat is now the 4th longest eruption of its kind in sort of the history of known volcanic eruptions, so even then it’s been very difficult to compare it to data from other places.”

He continued and reported on the state of the volcano. “The volcano is still swelling, there is still some moving upwards and even though this is the longest pause by far, it may well end in another period of lava extrusion, so we have to be watching out for that, hopefully it doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does happen.