Volcanologist and lead of the scientific team at La Soufriere Dr Thomas Christopher has confirmed that the temperature at Wallibou hot spring in St Vincent and the Grenadines has increased but the area is not dangerous.
He explained during a UWI-SRC update on La Soufriere that someone who lives on the island and frequently visits the hot spring reported that the temperature was much hotter than it used to be as well as the presence of the strong smell of sulfur.
Dr Christopher says samples were taken from the hot spring and he could confirm there was definitely the smell of sulfur.
He also measured the emissions and found there was hydrogen sulfide.
“I think basically you have more gas emissions because you have more gas around because your volcano is misbehaving. The temperature has gone up a bit by 5 or 6 degrees and there is a lot more gas than normal but it is not a dangerous place to be based on what we have found,” says Dr Christopher.
He also notes that it is difficult to say how an eruption would affect hot springs or fumaroles, as sometimes it can shut it off or create new springs.
Update on La Soufriere Volcano
The scientific team monitoring the La Soufriere Volcano was expected to survey the dome today to give its weekly update on its growth.
Dr Christopher however did answer questions about the presence of sulfur dioxide (SO2) at the volcano. He says the sulfur dioxide should have been seen since December 2020 once there is a volcano erupting, which is what La Soufriere is doing.
However, that was not the case when measurements were taken in January which led them to suspect the sulfur dioxide was reacting with the groundwater and creating mild sulfuric acid underground. The team finally began seeing SO2 on February 1.
The idea is there is now less water to interact with the volume of SO2 that’s coming off.
He further explained SO2 is the easiest gas for them to get a Mass Flux from. Mass Flux is the rate at which a given amount of gas leaves a vent.
Dr Christopher says if they could get a mass flux of SO2 on a daily basis, it would give a good idea of how fast the magma is coming out at the top.
He notes it could also be done remotely which makes it safer for them as opposed to going to the crater rim. It will also give the scientists a different type of information from what they have been getting so far.
Dr Christopher adds that so far, they have been looking at the chemistry of the gases, which tells them about depths and where it is coming from. However, the mass flux of sulfur dioxide tells how fast the magma is coming out.