Press conference re: COVID-19 and national cleanup updates – April 16, 2021. (PMO)

There is still the possibility of further eruptions from the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Director of The University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Centre (SRC), Dr. Erouscilla Joseph, issued this caution this evening as she gave an update on the volcano’s most recent activity, following the April 9 eruption.

Noting that seismic activity at the volcano continued last night, the scientist explained that the SRC was able to successfully measure the sulphur dioxide flux for the first time via an instrument in the sea called a spectrometer.

“Sulphur dioxide is primarily the silver species associated with fresh magma,” she said, noting that it was an additional tool in their arsenal to monitor changes at the volcano.

Dr. Joseph said recent observations indicated that there was a pattern of “deflation” inside the volcano.

“That deflation…, think of it as a balloon. So, when magma comes up, and it fills up a balloon, it expands. And when the balloon is burst that magma gas comes out to the surface. We have deflation.

“So, think of the volcano as that balloon. Inflation means magma was filling it, deflation means magma was coming out. So, we’re looking for that change, in going from the magma filling up….  So, prepare yourself for a series of eruptions,” she said.

Dr. Joseph added that they were presently experiencing a deflation signal, which meant that everything was trying to come out. She explained that this type of activity meant that there was the possibility of a longer-term eruption.

Dr. Joseph said the volcano was likely to continue erupting, although the explosive activity was diminishing in intensity.

She added that the current pattern of seismicity indicated that there was periodic growth of a lava dome, but stressed that was not confirmed.

“We hope to see satellite images to help us see… how big a dome is growing, if there is a dome,” she said, noting that the dome could also be continually destroyed by explosions.

Featured photo credit: The UWI Seismic Research Centre

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