Uncertainty: Soufriere could explode now or go quiet

By Demion McTair. Updated 1:50 p.m., Thursday, April 8, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

The La Soufriere volcano could erupt explosively now, in the coming days, in weeks, or it could go back quiet, leaving the country in a period of uncertainty.

According to head of the Seismic Research Center of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, Professor Richard Robertson, speaking at a press conference Thursday, activities at the volcano have entered a new period.

He said that at around 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, low-level seismic tremors, with continuous vibration of the ground, were recorded by equipment at the summit of the volcano.

He said there were three (3) separate episodes of this and then a 4th episode started at around 10:30 a.m.

He said that these continuous tremors are “usually associated” with magma coming to the surface.

Professor Robertson said “all indications are that there is a fresh mass of magma that is trying to come through,” and that could explain the elevated gas emissions seen Thursday.

He said the “possibility to move to an explosive phase has increased” at the volcano, but “we still can’t say exactly when”.

“We’re now into a period where we won’t be surprised if there is explosive activity,” he said, adding that the volcano could be quiet again.

Professor Robertson recommended to the government that preparations should be finalized to evacuate people on very short notice.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has issued a Disaster Alert which fits into the framework of the current Orange Level Alert, under Section 31 of the National Emergency Powers Act.

The declaration means that “there is a substantial prospect that a disaster will strike,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said.

He said that if the occasion arises, then a Stage 4 Alert will be issued, at which time an evacuation order will be issued.

Dr. Gonsalves said he will chair a National Emergency Management Organization – NEMO Council meeting which involves wide cross-section of stakeholders including members of Cabinet and a report given by NEMO director to each particular stakeholder.

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