UWI Seismic Research Centre experts say La Soufrière volcano still poses significant threat

The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Monday, April 26, 2021. — Experts at The UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) advise that La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent  and the Grenadines remains dangerous despite pauses in explosive activity.

During a virtual press conference hosted on Wednesday, April 21,  Rod Stewart,  Volcano-Seismologist from UWI-SRC/Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) emphasized, “…although it is easy to identify the start of eruptions, conclusively saying when eruptions are over often proves more difficult.”

The UWI-SRC and Vincentian authorities continue to monitor developments at the volcano, as they have been since the onset of heightened activity in December 2020, which entered an explosive phase on April 9, 2021.  Advice provided by the UWI–SRC enabled the successful evacuation of 13,000 residents from the designated ‘RED ZONE’ 24 hours prior to the first explosion of the volcano. Thirty-two discrete explosions have been observed since the onset of explosive activity. To date, there has been no loss of life. Ash from these explosions has been the primary hazard. Buildings and infrastructure have suffered damage in Saint Vincent and nearby Barbados was also severely impacted for several days. Explosive events have become less frequent over time, with the period between explosions increasing as the eruption progresses.

Professor Richard Robertson, UWI-SRC, Scientific Team Lead estimates that the explosivity seen during this current eruption, is greater than in 1979, and more comparable to the 1902 eruption.

The UWI-SRC Field Scientists based at the Belmont Observatory in Saint Vincent are part of larger team of seismic and engineering technicians, ground deformation specialists and communication experts based at the MVO and in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. Several international agencies and academic colleagues have also made valuable contributions to the current understanding of the eruption. The UWI-SRC remains ready to serve the region despite a perennial challenge to secure resources.

Dr. Erouscilla Joseph,  Director of the UWI-SRC,  invited donor agencies willing to partner with the UWI-SRC to “come on-board.”  She noted, “reducing the regions vulnerability to natural hazards will require many hands. Our University of the West Indies continues to demonstrate the value of regional integration and its capacity to supply leaders to meet any circumstance.”

The UWI-SRC reaffirms its commitment to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which will no doubt require substantial support to recover from this act of nature.



Notes to the Editor

For updates on activity at La Soufrière Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, follow The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/uwiseismic and on Twitter: http://twitter.com/uwiseismic

About The UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC)

The Seismic Research Centre was set up in 1953 and became part of The UWI in 1962. From its headquarters in Trinidad, it operates a volcano and earthquake monitoring network throughout the English-speaking Eastern Caribbean islands extending from St. Kitts & Nevis to Trinidad & Tobago. The UWI-SRC is responsible for monitoring earthquake and volcanic activity in these islands.  The region in which these countries are located is seismically active and historically has been the site of earthquakes of magnitude greater than 8.0. There are at least 19 live volcanoes in the region, which have been the sites of numerous eruptions, most recently in Montserrat (1995-present), Dominica (1997, phreatic) and St. Vincent & the Grenadines (2020-present). The UWI-SRC currently manages the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), which is responsible for monitoring the on-going eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano.

About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

Ranked among the top universities in the world, by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. In 2020, it earned ‘Triple 1st’ rankings—topping the Caribbean; and in the top in the tables for Latin America and the Caribbean, and global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the top universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

For more, visit www.uwi.edu.

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)