Volcanic Alert: Montserrat, South Caribbean
March 25, 2007
Photo: The Soufriere Hills Volcano overlooking the village of Salem
The possibility of a lateral blast from the volcano has increased because of several factors: the rate of growth of the dome, the preferential growth on the northwestern side of dome and the likely pressurization of the dome interior. Such a blast could be triggered by exposing the hot, pressurized interior of the dome, either from a large "normal" collapse or from failure of the crater wall. The Soufriere Hills lava dome has continued to grow at a high rate since the 20th of May 2006 collapse. Although the dome is not yet as large as it was prior to the July 12, 2003 collapse, the rate of growth towards that size is about three times faster than in 2003. Over the next year the SAC regards a major collapse of the dome down the Tar River Valley to be the most likely outcome, such a collapse would be accompanied by a major ashfall. They regard a pyroclastic flow/surge reaching the lower Belham Valley to be more likely than six months ago. The volume of the dome that could collapse down the Belham Valley could be as great as 20 million cubic meters or even more in future if the dome continues to grow.
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