Evacuation Underway As St. Vincent & The Grenadines Volcano Seems Set To Erupt

saint-vincent-volcano-set-to-erupt
A UWI Seismic shot of the volcano with given a clear view of the glowing, fiery dome as the darkness approached. (UWI Seismic image)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 9, 2021: Evacuations from several areas in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continued by land and sea last night as the island prepared for an explosive eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.

The evacuation order was given by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves last evening around 5 p.m. EST. and the alert level moved to red, just hours after an emergency press conference in which he said the island was not yet in evacuation mode.

But about three four hours later, the order was given as the country’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), said the new dome of the volcano reached the height of the crater on the Leeward side. Residents in that part of the island were given a clear view of the glowing, fiery dome as the darkness approached. The dome could be seen from the wharf at Chateaubelair.

UWI Seismic unit of the volcano last night, April 8, 2021.

Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection were on their way to the island nation and expected to arrive last evening to assist with evacuation efforts. The evacuation is of some 20,000 residents in the red zone who are in harm’s way. These include areas from Georgetown, north to Fancy, on the east coast, and Richmond, Chateaubelair, FitzHughes and Petit Bordel on the west coast. Persons will be evacuated by sea from Chateaubelair, in North Leeward, to Barrouallie, located in Central Leeward.

Emergency shelters on island have also been put in place by government. Safe areas where people will be evacuated to on island are from North Union to Kingstown, on the Windward side of the island and Barouallie to Kingstown on the Leeward side and the Grenadine Islands. See the full list of shelters HERE

Director of NEMO, Michelle Forbes, advised nationals to “take with you the necessary supplies, a bit of food, a bit of water, at least to last you for the night, especially if you are going into the emergency shelters.”

NEIGHBORS PITCHING IN

CARICOM has announced plans to help with Dr. Keith Rowley, the chairman of the body and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who is COVID-19 positive, stating last night the body is mobilized to support St Vincent and the Grenadines as it faces the possibility of an imminent eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet also said his country is ready to assist even as he warned that the southern portions of St. Lucia could be impacted as well by any eruption and Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, also said Guyana would be pitching in to help.

BACKGROUND

The UWI-Seismic Research Centre scientific team based at the Belmont Observatory in St. Vincent recorded six separate bands of volcanic tremor throughout the day Thursday. This new type of seismic event has not yet been observed since the beginning of the eruption in December 2020. This type of seismic signal is usually associated with movement of magma and fluids close to the surface. Ash venting was also observed during the most recent tremor episode.

The effusive eruption is continuing, and an explosive phase of the eruption may begin with very little warning. 

The UWI-SRC Geologist and Scientific Team Lead, Prof. Richard Robertson indicated that: “We cannot give any clear warning that nothing can happen within the next 24-48 hours and we would not be surprised if there are explosions at the volcano during that period.” 

ABOUT THE VOLCANO

The La Soufriѐre is the only ‘live’ (potentially active) volcano on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and stands 1,178m (3,864ft) above sea level.

There have been 5 explosive eruptions at La Soufriѐre during the historical period: 1718, 1812, 1814, 1902/03 and 1979, according to the UWI Seismic Unit. Several effusive eruptions have also occurred at the volcano.

On April 13,1979, an effusive phase followed the initial explosive phase of the eruption. In 1971/72 an effusive eruption created a lava dome that existed until the 1979 eruption.

The most recent dome building (effusive) eruption began on December 27th,2020. Visual observations on December 29th, 2020 confirmed that high temperatures detected by satellites used to track fires were in fact caused by magma reaching the surface.