Volcanic Eruptions

La Soufriere Volcano Comes Alive

La Soufrière volcano started a highly explosive eruption on April 9th, 2021. After a large evacuation, the first explosion sent a plume of ash 9700 meters into the atmosphere.

After a week of activity, explosive eruptions have subsided. Now, as the ash begins to clear, government officials have confirmed that there is now a new 900-meter wide explosion crater that resulted from the current eruption. ,

This video will cover what might happen next, and state the series of events that led to this explosive eruption.

What’s the impact of La Soufrière Volcano on citizens of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?

Heavy ashfall from the La Soufriere volcano has clogged the island’s water and sewer systems, raising concerns that water supplies could run out altogether. The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged more than 16,000 residents in “red zones” to evacuate.

LaSoufriere Volcano
La Soufriere Volcano Comes Alive 4

Streets on the island looked like they were blanketed in cement, as rain mixed with the hot ash emitted from the La Soufrière volcano. The resulting mixture has destroyed crops, contaminated water, killed animals, and devastated infrastructure, also rendering some roads impassable and complicating search and rescue efforts.

Tracking La Soufrière’s Plume

About the 1979 Eruption of La Soufriere volcano

In April 1979, La Soufriere, St. Vincent started to erupt: a large explosive eruption. After 10 months of mild premonitory activity. A series of strong vertical explosions between April 13 and 26 generated ash falls, pyroclastic flows and mudflows. From about May 3 onwards basaltic–andesite lava started to accumulate in the summit crater.

In the videos below Vincentians describe their thoughts, feelings and actions as this happened. They also describe what they have been told about the larger fatal eruptions in 1902.

During the volcanic activity of La Soufriere in 1979 many people were evacuated from their own homes. Here they talk about life in the evacuation shelters, and how it felt to pick up the pieces when they returned – and one or two of the upsides of all that activity.

History of Volcanic Activities on the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

1718

The first known explosive eruption of St Vincent was on 26 March 1718. The eruption lasted for several days, with accompanying felt earthquakes that destroyed the entire island. No first-hand descriptions of this eruption are known, but a writer, thought to be Daniel Defoe, published an account of the destruction of the island on 26 March 1718.

Defoe’s story published an “An account of the Island of St. Vincent in the West Indies, and of its entire destruction on the 26th March last” in the Weekly Journal or Saturday’s Post of July 5th, 1718 (also known as Mist’s Journal), based on correspondence from ships that had been in the vicinity.

This describes a short, but violent explosive eruption  “They saw in the night that terrible flash of fire, and .. heard innumerable clashes of thunder”, and the fallout of ash far downwind

In the afternoon they were surpriz’d with the falling of something upon them as thick as smoke but fine as dust, and yet solid as sand ; some ships had it nine inches, others a foot thick, upon their decks; the Island of Martenico [Martinique] is covered with it at about 7 to 9 inches thick; at Barbadoes it is frightful, even to St. Christophers it exceeded four inches.”

1784

In 1784, Alexander Anderson, then curator of the Botanic Gardens of St Vincent, described the crater of the Soufrière on St Vincent. His account was published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, along with a fantastic image of the crater.

This letter was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, along with a fantastic painting showing the crater, filled with water and surrounded by lava. In many ways, this view is strikingly similar to what the crater looks like today.

1812

The next major eruption of St Vincent occurred in 1812, in a major event which was captured dramatically both in written reports and in a painting by J. M. W. Turner.

British Parliamentary Papers from 1813 include a description of the volcano eruption in 1812. The account appears to be based on written testimonies from residents on the island and was published in The Times newspaper.

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