The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Thursday, April 6th, 2023 – Almost two years after responding to a dramatic eruption at La Soufriere, scientists, emergency managers and other stakeholders descended on St. Vincent for three days, March 28 – 30, 2023 to share scientific findings, discuss lessons learned, and plot the way forward for regional volcano risk management.
To get things started, Day 1 was devoted to The Hazard and Risk Communication in the Eastern Caribbean Workshop. Emergency managers, GIS and communication specialists from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago participated in a one-day workshop hosted at the UWI Open Campus (St. Vincent) and facilitated by regional and international experts. Representatives from the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) Working Group on Hazard Mapping, the United States Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (USGS-VDAP), GNS Science New Zealand and a small team from the UWI Seismic Research Centre led participants through a series of discussion topics after presentations on the global state of volcano crisis communication and hazard mapping. During breakout sessions participants provided feedback on existing volcanic hazard maps and the Volcanic Alert Level System (VALS) currently used in the region. Organiser, UWI-SRC Geologist Prof. Richard Robertson, indicated that capturing suggestions for improving these two critical elements of local and regional volcanic emergency response was the first step in “co-producing a revised suite of more user-friendly crisis management tools”.
Day 2 saw the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines being invited to participate in a scientific conference featuring research conducted during and in the aftermath of the 2020 – 2021 eruption. The “Explosions, Ash and Lahars – Country Conference 2023” was open to the public, free of charge and streamed online. Researchers from around the world presented work on the physical, psychological and social aspects of the eruption to a varied and appreciative audience. During a short opening ceremony, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves delivered a feature address in which he recounted the dark days of April 2021 and thanked all those who provided assistance to his country and its people in their time of need. Also in attendance was a special group of Vincentians who had since the eruption, been involved in capturing the changes to the physical and social landscape of the island brought on by the eruption.
Hailing from communities north of the Rabacca Dry River that were heavily impacted by ash and lahars, participants in the Changing Landscapes Project had previously been involved in a program which taught them the basics of digital photography. The project sought to provide these communities with the tools to effectively tell their own stories. Participants’ photos adorned the walls of the conference venue and formed a fitting backdrop for the research presented during the conference. In the lead up the country conference, this group received further training in the art and science of storytelling. This time around they were initiated into the world of documentary film making by award winning Vincentian film makers Aiko Roudette, Akley Olton and veteran journalist and documentary maker Dr. Kim Johnson from Trinidad and Tobago. On Wednesday at the country conference, Ms. Clyronique Durrant delivered a stirring talk on the merits of citizen science on behalf of her Changing Landscapes colleagues to rousing applause.
The third and final day of activities took conference and workshop participants on a guided tour of north-windward St. Vincent. Starting at the Rabacca Bridge and then to the head of the La Soufriere hiking trail at “Bamboo Range”, the tour stopped at various sites of interest where tour leaders discussed different aspects of the eruption’s social and environmental impact. Along the way persons observed homes and other infrastructure damaged by the eruption as well as newly constructed homes built to house those who were displaced. The day ended with cultural presentations and opportunities to sample traditional Vincentian delicacies during a picnic at the scenic Owia Salt pond. The UWI Seismic Research Centre wishes to thank its local partners the National Emergency Management Organisations (NEMO) and the UWI Open Campus for their hospitality over these three days and looks forward to more successful collaborations in the future.
SVG Country Conference 2023 Photo Album
Volcano Ready Communities Project
National Emergency Management Organization
The UWI Open Campus St. Vincent and the Grenadines
USGS Volcano Disaster Assistance Program
International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior
The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Wednesday, June 1st, 2022. — A team from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre is currently on island in Dominica scouting sites to perform magnetotelluric (MT) investigations later this year. In partnerships with the Ministry of Planning, Economic Development, Climate Resilience, Sustainable Development and Renewable Energy and Jacobs New Zealand, the two man team of Dr. Ilias Papadopoulos and Mr. Jevan Manzano aim to identify adequate sites to undertake this geophysical study. This geophysical method enables scientists to investigate at great depths (>5km) the geological stratigraphy of an area. The results will be used to determine the geothermal potential at the north of the island.
Changing Landscapes SVG is a recovery project that focuses on North Windward Communities in St. Vincent. The project aimed to engage participants in observing and documenting changes in their environment using a citizen science approach. Applying photography as a medium and sensors for measuring rainfall, the project incorporates a participatory storytelling approach to empower and support the recovery of communities returning to the Red Zone after the eruption.
Workshops with local photographers were conducted from October to November 2021 to introduce a group (inclusive of communities north of the Rabacca River), to basic photography and storytelling. The group also engaged with scientists from UWI Seismic and the University of East Anglia to share motivations for the project and the value of the community’s perspective in understanding lahars. Equipped with digital cameras, a series of community walks were conducted from October 2021 to February 2022 and participants began their journey in visual storytelling and citizen science. The walks also served to identify sites used to install 5 rain gauges for measuring rainfall in the upper valleys of each community. Participants were encouraged to express and capture challenges and changes they experienced in their communities since returning home to the Red Zone. Rain Gauges have been installed in locations stretching from Jacob’s Well (on La Soufriere volcano), to Fancy. These are managed and monitored by the community participants with support from the SRC and project partners.
A launch of the exhibit occurred on April 4th at the National Trust Building, Kingstown and ran until the 8th. The exhibit then moved to the Windward village on Sandy Bay and opened with cultural events and presentations on Saturday 9th April, 2022. The exhibition remains up until April 22nd and persons are encouraged to visit the Red Zone and view the amazing work done by community members on this project.
Through this mode of Citizen Science, we emphasize the importance of community knowledge and participation in data collection and knowledge generation. In Re-Imagining a future for themselves, the Changing Landscapes project both promote a new means of knowledge production and is a vehicle for community engagement for risk reduction and recovery.
Children from the village viewing photos at the exhibit in Sandy Bay
Photo credit: Monique Johnson & Prof Robertson, UWI-SRC/Nadia Huggins
The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Monday, April 4, 2022. — Vincentian stories are set to feature in a short film and photo exhibition one year after the explosive eruption at La Soufrière.
In recent months, residents of Saint Vincent have been a part of two recovery projects executed in partnership with The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC). The first project, a collaboration with the University of Cambridge, produced a short film. In the film, community residents tell their stories of resilience in the face of uncertainty. Residents share key lessons on preparedness and relive the events of the eruption.
In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the eruption of La Soufrière (2021), there will be public screenings of the film throughout the island from April 20th – 23rd. The film formed part of a larger project that evaluated crisis communication during the eruption. Residents were also involved in this portion of the project, providing researchers with feedback on the information they did or did not receive leading up to the eventual evacuation and eruption. Results from the evaluation will help to prepare local authorities and the UWI-SRC for future eruptions.
A second project saw several Vincentians learn the art and science of photography while capturing changes in their environment. The Changing Landscapes SVG Community Recovery Project focused on documenting the changes caused by lahars (mudflows) in the aftermath of the eruption. Participants were mentored by local professional photographers and learned the basics of photography during workshops in October and November 2021. Scientists from the UWI-SRC and the University of East Anglia also oversaw the installation of rain gauges on the volcano and surrounding communities that will allow villagers to keep track of rainfall and its effects.
An exhibition titled: Re-imagining the Red Zone will showcase participants’ photos at the National Trust Building, Kingstown from April 4th – 8th and then at Sion Hill, Sandy Bay from April 9th – 22nd. Project manager Ms Monique Johnson believes the citizen science approach taken in this project will encourage persons to be more aware of their surroundings and help residents understand the effect the volcano can have on daily life long after the eruption is over.
It is hoped that the project promotes a new means of knowledge production and can be a vehicle for community engagement for risk reduction and recovery. The UWI-SRC and The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) cordially invite all Vincentians and visitors to take part in these commemorative events.Visit our La Soufrière information hub
The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Friday, January 28, 2022. — Residents and visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines can now contribute to scientific research while learning about the impact of natural hazards in their communities, all from the palm of their hands.
The ‘myHAZ-VCT’ citizen science app, a collaboration of The UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC), the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the British Geological Survey (BGS), was officially launched earlier today at NEMO headquarters.
myHAZ-VCT is a citizen science platform for sharing observations of natural hazards and environmental phenomena in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is designed to provide scientists (UWI-SRC), emergency managers (NEMO) and citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with first-hand information about a range of natural hazards and environmental phenomena that occur in the country. Since scientists and emergency managers cannot be everywhere, enlisting members of the public in sharing observations can provide a broader understanding of the impact to the community. This information can be used by NEMO to respond more effectively to impacted communities as well as to develop robust hazard mitigation systems.
At the official launch, Director of NEMO, Ms Michelle Forbes noted NEMO’s effort in leading the citizen science approach in the country and region especially around the volcano and geological hazards. “Working with the BGS and SRC on this was not just for an app we control but a way for citizens and community members to share info and have reviewed and verified information to better inform on hazards impacting the community.”
UWI-SRC Geologist, Professor Richard Robertson in his pre-recorded remarks emphasized the multi-hazard utility of the app and provided a short overview stating, “From 2017-2022, from concept to launch the app has been seen as a useful tool and required continuous community and stakeholder engagement and constant development.”
Dr Katy Mee, myHAZ Project Lead on behalf of the project team at BGS shared the following, “Becoming a citizen scientist means that you can be the eyes and ears of your community and help NEMO and UWI-SRC to gather observations of natural hazards and other environmental phenomena. We hope citizens enjoy using the app and look forward to seeing your observations and hearing your feedback so that we can continue to make improvements to myHAZ-VCT.
We have very much enjoyed collaborating with UWI-SRC and NEMO on development of the myHAZ-VCT app over the past five years and we’re thrilled to see the app being formally launched today. We extend our thanks to all of those involved in today’s launch and look forward to further collaboration in future.”
The media launch included a live demo of the app by Research Assistant (UWI-SRC), Mr Omari Graham, and a question-and-answer session. Promotion of the app continues via radio giveaways, social media posts and engagement online. myHAZ-VCT is available for download for Android and iOS devices on Google Play and The App Store.
For Immediate Release
UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Tuesday, November 30, 2021. — Scientists attached to The UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) have ended their tour of duty in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Activity at the volcano has declined steadily since the last explosive event on April 22nd, 2021 and all currently available monitoring data points to an end in eruptive activity. However, residual steaming at the summit and lahars (mudslides) in the valleys surrounding the volcano will continue to be observed for some time. The Soufriѐre Monitoring Unit (SMU) at the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) will now assume responsibility for the operations of the Belmont Observatory. Day to day monitoring of the volcano will be supported by the UWI-SRC remotely from its base in Trinidad.
The on-island scientific staff rotation ends an almost year-long occupation of the Belmont Observatory. After the detection of the new lava dome at La Soufriѐre in late December 2020, UWI-SRC scientists based at the observatory oversaw the upgrade of the local seismic and ground deformation monitoring networks, conducted other fieldwork and ground-based measurements, and advised the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the run up to the onset of explosive activity on April 9th, 2021.
Senior Research Fellow (Geologist) at the UWI-SRC, Prof. Richard Robertson believes that the volcano will now go through a period of adjustment saying: “The mountain went through a traumatic experience and will take some time to reshape itself”. UWI-SRC Director, Dr. Erouscilla Joseph reaffirms the Centre’s commitment to St. Vincent and its residents indicating that “we continue to monitor La Soufrière in this new phase of activity and provide support to NEMO and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
The volcanic alert level at La Soufriѐre remains at YELLOW.
Scientific updates on the volcano will be available on The UWI-SRC website (www.uwiseismic.com) and social media platforms (@uwiseismic).