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The Mountain of Blue Fire

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6/02/2008

Montserrat Volcano Alert

Montserrat, Caribbean
Last Saturday morning, May 20, at about 6.00 a.m., vulcanologists noticed signs of increased activity at the Soufriere Hills volcano, and at about 7.20 a.m. the lava dome that had been growing from the main peak collapsed, triggering a pyroclastic flow to the east and emitting a big cloud of ash. Regularly scheduled flights to airports in the vicinity had been cancelled or diverted because of the huge ash cloud above the central Leeward Islands. The rear window of one resident's car was shattered by a rock ejected during the eruption.

Nearly eleven years ago, Montserrat’s long-dormant Soufriere Hills Volcano began erupting for the first time in the island's recorded history. A series of pyroclastic flows and sometimes violent eruptions of ash and gases covered much of the southern part of Montserrat, including the capital, Plymouth, rendering it uninhabitable. The volcano is still very much active, though in recent years it's been relatively quiet, with small ash eruptions and pyroclastic flows every six or nine months.

Image:
The Soufriere Hills Volcano on Saturday 20 May. Photo from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory website
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