UK newspapers endanger Montserrat, again

Express posted this 2006 picture of the volcano

by Bennette Roach

It wouldn’t be the first time that UK Newspapers have distorted and published information that turned out unfavourable and detrimental to the Island. We can point to the recent not so old publications regarding the development of fibre optic service to Montserrat, touted strongly and convincingly as a ‘game changer’ for economy starved British Overseas Territory.

Publication of articles like this with this kind of information is reminiscent of 1997-8 when the UK Government authorities broadcasted and said that there might be a ‘cataclysmic eruption’ that would cause Montserrat to completely evacuated. The result of that in spite of vehement denial of that situation from the Government and scientists on Montserrat, it was not until 2008 the UK relented on the misinformation.

Very cleverly written, if not with some dishonesty. If one doesn’t read carefully, you will miss that Professor Neuberg is not the one saying, ‘Sadly, Montserratians must continue to wait.’

 The only information attributed to Professor Neuberg is the following: “Except for the gas plume there is nothing visible on the surface, but the instruments show us clearly that the deformation is ongoing and the entire island is still inflating,”

With all the observations and opinions inserted, some of the information is far from up to date, even though they claimed they were reporting on very recent information. Like the population of Montserrat today.

Soufriere Hills mountain, March 5, 2018

As the Director Stewart observes the Express was even more damning in its reporting on this matter. Alarmist! This leads to an opinion that the article is planted with intention to deceive, and one that should be investigated at the highest level.

Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

The Guardian’s article: Montserrat Volcano remains a risk

The Express gives an update and asks – Montserrat’s volcano update: Is the terrifying volcano at risk of imminent  eruption

These newspapers have carried articles that when they are given these thoughts to report on, should cause them to worry about accuracy and honesty.

Here MVO director sets the record straight.

Statement on the Status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat

Following the publication on 7 March 2018 of two articles in UK newspapers (The Guardian and The Express), members of the public have expressed concerns about the current status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (SHV), particularly with reference to ground deformation. Monitoring data recorded and interpreted by Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) shows no changes that suggest that new activity is imminent. The newspaper articles are misleading and, in the case of The Express, alarmist.

Since the end of the last phase of lava extrusion on 11 February 2010, MVO has observed a slow, steady movement of the ground surface across the whole of Montserrat using data recorded by our network of very precise Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. The news articles in question report on research being carried out by MVO in collaboration with Professor Jurgen Neuberg (University of Leeds, UK) that seeks to understand this trend. The research suggests that, since February 2010, the underground magma system that feeds the SHV has been slowly recharged by the influx of magma at depth. This causes the pressure inside the system to increase, which is then seen as upwards and outwards movement of the ground surface around the volcano.

The news articles suggest that the research has produced new information. In the Express article this, when combined with a very small swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes on 25 February 2018, indicates that a new eruption may be imminent. This is not the case. Brief swarms of such earthquakes have occurred on more than one hundred occasions since 2007.

All the data recorded by MVO since the last surface activity in February 2010 follows a consistent long-term trend which was also characteristic of four previous pauses in activity. The overall earthquake activity has been relatively low; the observed deformation pattern shows slow inflation, and the sulphur dioxide gas output is between 200 and 400 tons per day.

The restrictions on access to some areas of Montserrat have been in place for many years and all visits to these areas, including for economic activity, are closely controlled and very carefully managed.

 

 

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Express posted this 2006 picture of the volcano

by Bennette Roach

It wouldn’t be the first time that UK Newspapers have distorted and published information that turned out unfavourable and detrimental to the Island. We can point to the recent not so old publications regarding the development of fibre optic service to Montserrat, touted strongly and convincingly as a ‘game changer’ for economy starved British Overseas Territory.

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Publication of articles like this with this kind of information is reminiscent of 1997-8 when the UK Government authorities broadcasted and said that there might be a ‘cataclysmic eruption’ that would cause Montserrat to completely evacuated. The result of that in spite of vehement denial of that situation from the Government and scientists on Montserrat, it was not until 2008 the UK relented on the misinformation.

Very cleverly written, if not with some dishonesty. If one doesn’t read carefully, you will miss that Professor Neuberg is not the one saying, ‘Sadly, Montserratians must continue to wait.’

 The only information attributed to Professor Neuberg is the following: “Except for the gas plume there is nothing visible on the surface, but the instruments show us clearly that the deformation is ongoing and the entire island is still inflating,”

With all the observations and opinions inserted, some of the information is far from up to date, even though they claimed they were reporting on very recent information. Like the population of Montserrat today.

Soufriere Hills mountain, March 5, 2018

As the Director Stewart observes the Express was even more damning in its reporting on this matter. Alarmist! This leads to an opinion that the article is planted with intention to deceive, and one that should be investigated at the highest level.

Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

The Guardian’s article: Montserrat Volcano remains a risk

The Express gives an update and asks – Montserrat’s volcano update: Is the terrifying volcano at risk of imminent  eruption

These newspapers have carried articles that when they are given these thoughts to report on, should cause them to worry about accuracy and honesty.

Here MVO director sets the record straight.

Statement on the Status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat

Following the publication on 7 March 2018 of two articles in UK newspapers (The Guardian and The Express), members of the public have expressed concerns about the current status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (SHV), particularly with reference to ground deformation. Monitoring data recorded and interpreted by Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) shows no changes that suggest that new activity is imminent. The newspaper articles are misleading and, in the case of The Express, alarmist.

Since the end of the last phase of lava extrusion on 11 February 2010, MVO has observed a slow, steady movement of the ground surface across the whole of Montserrat using data recorded by our network of very precise Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. The news articles in question report on research being carried out by MVO in collaboration with Professor Jurgen Neuberg (University of Leeds, UK) that seeks to understand this trend. The research suggests that, since February 2010, the underground magma system that feeds the SHV has been slowly recharged by the influx of magma at depth. This causes the pressure inside the system to increase, which is then seen as upwards and outwards movement of the ground surface around the volcano.

The news articles suggest that the research has produced new information. In the Express article this, when combined with a very small swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes on 25 February 2018, indicates that a new eruption may be imminent. This is not the case. Brief swarms of such earthquakes have occurred on more than one hundred occasions since 2007.

All the data recorded by MVO since the last surface activity in February 2010 follows a consistent long-term trend which was also characteristic of four previous pauses in activity. The overall earthquake activity has been relatively low; the observed deformation pattern shows slow inflation, and the sulphur dioxide gas output is between 200 and 400 tons per day.

The restrictions on access to some areas of Montserrat have been in place for many years and all visits to these areas, including for economic activity, are closely controlled and very carefully managed.