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Leslie Ogle, Rockland St Peters Montserrat WI
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Dormant since the early 1600's Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano became active again erupting on July 18, 1995. Spectacular though it was, the eruption was anticipated with preparations for the safety of the community long in place and very effective.
In character, Soufriere is much like Mt .St. Helen's in Washington State which also did its damage with superheated ash and rubble, rather than with lava flows. Soufriere's first eruption in 1995 was not devastating to the island's residents, though it was spectacular. Two years later Soufriere wrought its real havoc, burying the capital city of Plymouth, most of the island's airport and destroying one of the island's most popular diversions when it covered the Belham Valley Golf Course in rubble and ash. Prior to Soufriere's second eruption, a visitor's life in Montserrat was considerably different than it is now. The Montserrat Golf Club offered 9 holes and tennis courts and the capital city of Plymouth was a delight with its historic buildings and small town charm. Tragically, in 1997 twenty farmers were killed by pyroclastic flows when they ventured into the unsafe area disregarding the warnings of imminent volcanic activity. Many of the island's fondly remembered natural charms were lost as well.
THE MONTSERRAT VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
Though even today Soufriere is not quiescent, it can be seen safely from high spots on the island. The new Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) also provides an excellent view of the volcano along with a professionally guided tour of the monitoring facility. From some vantage points you will see the destroyed capital city of Plymouth and the ash covered farm lands that not many years ago were the fertile agricultural farms that made Montserrat so productive and so economically viable. The experience of seeing an active volcano and its power to destroy is moderated knowing that the staff at the MVO is monitoring its status in order to warn residents and visitors of any imminent escalation of volcanic activity.
THE THOMPSON REPORT
Although the island has the MVO watching Soufriere, the world has many volcano monitoring stations as well as universities and organizations, both private and public who conduct research, provide public information and advisories on volcanic activity around the world. As residents of Montserrat living near an active volcano, we have found one internet site particularly interesting and informative. Sometimes looking at a geological event from a distance may make a difference in the ways in which its activity will be interpreted or explained and Professor R.N. Thompson has done just that. Please click here to read a short bit that he wrote, to see photographs of a recent event and to find the link to Thompson's web site.
THE SOUND OF A VOLCANO
If you would like to hear what the Soufriere Volcano sounds like, click here!
PHOTOGRAPHIC TOURS OF THE VOLCANO
In the following two photographic tours, ride along with volcanologists as they visually for any changes in the Soufriere Hills Volcano.
THE MAY 20, 2006 DOME COLLAPSE
We woke early as is our habit. It was raining and there was thunder in the distance; or at least we thought it was thunder. Heavy rain poured down and the distant rumblings came not just from the Centre Hills above us, but also from the direction of the volcano and we soon realized that Soufriere was involved. Small rocks pelted our tin roof, fell in our pool and the surrounding gardens. Soon there was the sound of rain on the roof, but nothing ran off the edge. What was falling from the sky was mud. Heavy and very wet, it took a while to flow down the roof's pitch and off the edge. When it did, it was dark brown mud. We crossed the living room from the deck to the front of the house so many times it is hard to remember; each time trying to fix in our minds what was happening. Tears came as I saw our tenderly cared for plants wilt under the weight and acidity of the ash. Maybe it can also be said that when the power went off and the phone turned back decades from tone into pulse, we felt especially isolated and vulnerable. We have a radio, but never thought about batteries for a power outage so we were in our home with no contact or news of what was happening. These are a few of the pictures we took that day when we said "Let's take a look" and got on the road.
If you would like to see our photos of The May 20 Soufriere Volcano Dome Collapse click here.
JUNE 20, 2006 PARTIAL DOME COLLAPSE
Just after mid day and lasting less than an hour, the ash cloud from this event rose 12,000 feet to the west/northwest. A resident wrote to us while we were off island saying it was an impressive event however short. Fortunately the winds carried most of the ash off the island.
JANUARY 8 VOLCANIC EVENT
We are becoming old hands at this volcano stuff. At the drop of a hat we run for the camera and ooh and ah while trying to catch the best images. Then we run for the dust covers and close the house, bang! bang! bang! These three photographs were taken in the early morning on the 8th from our deck.
YOUTUBE ON THE SOUFRIERE VOLCANO
Montserrat residents Doug and Deb Darby submitted the following videos to 'youtube.' Click on either of the links below to take a look.
for January 7th is
January 8th is
of the Americas (POA)
Nations International Volunteers (UNIV)