Eastern Caribbean volcanoes produce what scientists call Andesitic lavas that are very sticky. They form domes and when they erupt explosively produce lots of ash, debris avalanches and projectiles. Volcanoes like those in Hawaii produce Basaltic lavas that are very runny. These volcanoes often generate lava flows with fewer projectiles.

As the fine particles in the ash column rapidly collide there is a buildup of static electricity. We see the rapid discharge of this electricity as lightning.

Yes. There has been significant ashfall across mainland St. Vincent. With rain, ash deposits will be swept into rivers and streams forming lahars or mudflows. These flows usually have a high temperature and can carry large amounts of volcanic debris. These can happen months after the eruption has ended.

Yes, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) or pyroclastic flows have been observed on the north-western flanks of the volcano. They are usually caused by the collapse of the eruption column, a dome collapse or a lateral blast.

In most persons volcanic ash will only irritate the eyes and respiratory system. Persons with pre-existing conditions like asthma will be at increased risk to be negatively affected.

This is the highest alert level. At alert level (Red) an eruption is in progress or may occur without warning. Civil authorities are continuously advised by scientists. Authorities begin or continue evacuation as necessary and issue regular radio, television and social media updates.

This eruption appears to be larger than the 1979 eruption in terms of material put into the into the atmosphere. Its explosivity is more comparable to the 1902 eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.

Volcanic Alert Levels allow scientists and civil authorities to quickly communicate what’s happening at a volcano. Each step up the alert level table usually indicates an increased level of volcanic activity requiring heightened awareness and action from the public.

Explosive eruptions are driven by volcanic gases contained in magma. During the effusive phase this gas was released slowly from the magma as it came to the surface. Eventually the pressure created by more rapidly degassing magma was too much to be contained by the material above the vent. The result is an explosive volcanic eruption. Compare it to ‘popping’ a bottle of champagne!

Geothermal drilling cannot trigger volcanic eruptions. Geothermal fluids (waters and gases) are produced when surface water comes into contact with rocks heated by magma. The hot fluid is extracted relatively close to the surface very far from actual magma chambers.