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Caribbean volcanoes rumble to life as scientists study activity not seen in years | Volcanoes


#Volcanoes that have been quiet for decades are rumbling to life in the eastern #Caribbean, prompting officials to issue alerts in #Martinique and #St #Vincent and the #Grenadines as scientists rush in to study activity they say has not been observed in years.

The most recent warning was issued late on #Tuesday for #La #Soufriere volcano in #St #Vincent and the #Grenadines, a chain of islands home to more than 100,000 people. #Officials reported tremors, strong gas emissions, formation of a new volcanic dome and changes to its crater lake.

The #Caribbean #Disaster #Emergency #Management #Agency said that scientists observed an “effusive eruption within the crater, with visible gas and steam” on #Tuesday.

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The government warned those living near the volcano to prepare to evacuate if needed, declaring an orange alert that means eruptions could occur with less than 24 hours’ notice.

#La #Soufriere, located near the northern tip of the main island of #St #Vincent, last erupted in 1979, and a previous eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people. #That occurred shortly before #Martinique’s #Mt #Pelee erupted and destroyed the town of #Saint-Pierre, killing more than 30,000 people.

#Mt #Pelee too is now active once again. #In early #December, officials in the #French #Caribbean territory issued a yellow alert due to seismic activity under the mountain. #It was the first alert of its kind issued since the volcano last erupted in 1932, said #Fabrice #Fontaine, with #Martinique’s #Volcanological and #Seismological #Observatory, to the #Associated #Press.

#While the eastern #Caribbean is one long chain of active and extinct volcanoes, volcanologist #Erik #Klemetti, at #Denison #University in #Ohio, said the activity at #Mt #Pelee and #La #Soufriere are not related.

“It’s not like one volcano starts erupting that others will,” he said. “It falls into the category of coincidence.”

#He said the activity is evidence that magma is lurking underground and percolating toward the surface, although he added that scientists still do not have a very good understanding of what controls how quickly that happens.

“The answers are not entirely satisfying,” he said. “It’s science that’s still being researched.”

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#Klemetti said the most active volcano in recent years in the eastern #Caribbean has been #Soufriere #Hills in #Montserrat, which has erupted continuously since 1995, destroying the capital of #Plymouth and killing at least 19 people in 1997.

#Seventeen of the eastern #Caribbean’s 19 live volcanoes are located on 11 islands, with the remaining two underwater near the island of #Grenada, including one called #Kick ’#Em #Jenny that has been active in recent years.



[ source link ]
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/30/eastern-caribbean-volcanoes-la-soufriere

##Caribbean #volcanoes #rumble #life #scientists #study #activity #years ##Volcanoes

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