Persons here have been tossing up their opinions about whether or not the seismic activity at the La Soufriere volcano would simply remain an effusive eruption.
Amid that national concern, Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, as he addressed the nation on Monday 18th January, outlined three possible scenarios that could develop as the dome continues to grow.
“The dome will continue to grow to a point and then stop….. Second, the dome will continue to grow significantly, and if it continues to grow there is the possibility [that] it can get out of the crater and move down the flanks of the volcano into the sea. This is on the Leeward side of St. Vincent. This will have implications for communities in Richmond, Chateaubelair and Fitz Hughes. The third possible scenario, an explosive eruption may occur following the effusive phase of this eruption. This may occur immediately after the effusive phase or following a break, long or short.”
The growth of the dome has been given significant importance by the seismic team monitoring the volcano.
According to seismic team leader, Geologist Professor Richard Robertson during his participation in NBC Radio’s Face to Face programme on Monday, 18th January, “We did a detailed aerial survey. So we took overlapping photographs from the helicopter with a special attachment… on the camera, at the bottom of the helicopter; and it’s being processed.”
He reported that soon there should be “a detailed idea of the full dimension of the dome and it will tell people what we had said before when we gave the volumes and the dimensions: they had a lot of errors in it.”
He predicted that now, with the special attachment, “..we [are] going to have much less errors and the number might be slightly different. So, going forward, the measurements that we do will be based on this new definition of the shape of the dome which we will have a very detailed view of pretty soon.”
Professor Robertson explained that the geologists will then be able to track much more accurately what the changes in volumes are, and by extension, the rate of its growing, its coming out, which is a very important factor in monitoring.
Even as the alert level remains at orange, the Prime Minister advised Vincentians, especially persons living in communities close to the volcano, to be prepared for any eventuality.
“With these three scenarios in mind, I want to encourage every Vincentian to have their own family emergency plan…even more so, if you are living in the red and orange zones.”
These are the communities that will be evacuated first in the event of an evacuation order.