It is unlikely that an eruption will occur without warning. Volcanic eruptions in the Eastern Caribbean are usually preceded by recognizable symptoms, such as small earthquakes, changes in gas chemistry, and/or ground deformation (swelling of the mountain) long before an eruption occurs. The Seismic Research Centre operates a monitoring system which should enable scientists to provide sufficient warning to the authorities prior to an eruption so that appropriate action can be taken.

Volcanoes are caused by processes beneath the surface of the Earth and the factors which may trigger eruptions are totally unconnected to the atmospheric processes which cause changes in weather. Heat waves, overcast conditions at the summit or any other weather phenomena do not indicate anything about the state of the volcano. However, heavy rains during an eruption may trigger mudflows (lahars) and lightening can occur from eruption columns. 

The term “soufriere” comes from the French “soufre”, which means sulphur. In many volcanic areas, sulphur is naturally deposited at the surface by the volcanic gases and has traditionally been extracted and used by people. A “soufriere” is by definition such a place where sulphur is naturally deposited and is often associated with a volcano (e.g., Soufriere Hills Volcano, in Montserrat or the town Soufriere in Dominica). 

A volcano is considered active (i.e., “live”) when signs of activity can still be detected. These signs can be occasional volcanic seismic activity, gas emitted on an around the volcano, ground deformation. Apart from the occurrence of gas vents, most of these signs are generally only detectable with specialized monitoring equipment (e.g., seismometers, GPS).