Eruption on Montserrat


 Penn State


Caption for GRL Cover

Rapidly ascending eruption column of the Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat, at 14:36LT on August 6, 1997, viewed from 7 km northwest. The convecting plume rose to about 12 km, where it spread to form an umbrella cap that was subsequently sheared from the main column and transported northeast by high-altitude winds. Minutes earlier, a circular cap of collapsing debris produced pumiceous pyroclastic flows in drainages that were radially distributed about the volcano. At the lower right of the column are ash clouds from pyroclastic flows moving toward the capital town of Plymouth. At the lower left are ash clouds from flows moving northward. The series of explosive eruptions in August brought concerns for the safety of Montserrat residents to the crisis stage. (See Part 1 of the special section on Montserrat, this issue.) (Photo by B. Voight.)

Highlights of the Issue

Geophysical Research Letters, September 15, 1998

The Soufrière Hills eruption: Special section

The Soufrière Hills Volcano on the Lesser Antilles Emerald Isle of Montserrat has been active for the past three years. The volcano is being closely monitored, and, since the onset of the eruptive activity, a Montserrat Volcano Observatory has been established. As a result, seismic, deformation and gas monitoring as well as visual observations of the volcano are regularly performed. The special section in this issue (part 1) and in a forthcoming issue (part 2) is devoted to the Soufrière Hills eruption. Part 1 focuses on seismicity, ground deformation studies and petrology, and includes an overview of the geology of the eruption. Part 2 will cover topics in seismology, petrology, pyroclastic flow models, gas chemistry, hydrothermal systems, and tsunami models. The Soufrière Hills eruption has provided scientists with an excellent opportunity to investigate an andesite dome eruption with modern instruments. Work presented in the special section highlights how measured geophysical parameters can gauge volcanic behavior.

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