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SOUFRIERE VOLCANO ERUPTION TIMELINE

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LA SOUFRIERE’s April 2021 eruption has displaced thousands of people living in communities at the base of the volcano and in neighbouring communities. Here’s how the events of St Vincent’s latest explosive volcanic eruption have unfolded over these past four days.

  • APRIL 9 – EXPLOSIVE ERUPTIONS BEGIN

The volcano erupted on April 9, 2021 at 8:41am, four days shy of its 42nd anniversary. The 2021 eruption occurred on the second Friday in April, just like the last eruption which took place in 1979.

The height of the eruption column was estimated at 10km, and areas in all zones, red, orange, yellow and green experienced heavy ashfall.

Evacuation from the red zones which began on the evening of Thursday, April 8 following the notice given by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, continued for persons who were still in hazard areas.

The UWI Seismic Research Centre reported that after the initial explosion, seismicity increased again at approximately 11:30am, with a swarm of earthquakes lasting until 2:40am.

Three explosive eruptions took place. The first occurred at 8:41am, the second at 2:45pm and the third at 6:35pm.

During the night, lightning could be seen in the ash column due to its highly charged nature.

Professor Richard Robertson, geologist and leader of the team tht is monitoring the volcano cautioned that the volcano continues to be in an explosive phase, which may last several days to weeks.

  • APRIL 10 – NEW DOME DESTROYED

The new dome that had been forming in the crater of La Soufriere for months, was blown off in the explosive eruptions, sending at least 13 million cubic metres of material into the atmosphere.

Updates from the UWI Seismic Research Centre noted that the tremor generated by energetic venting of La Soufriere continued overnight.

Audible rumblings accompanied by ash venting occurred throughout most of the night with ashfall reported throughout St Vincent and in some areas of Barbados and St Lucia.

Roads and buildings, including in capital Kingstown, which lies south of the volcano, were blanketed in ash.

A nationwide blackout occurred sometime before 12am.

The water supply was also severely affected in most areas.

  • APRIL 11 – SIMILAR TO 1902

ERUPTION

Scientists monitoring the 2021 eruption said the patterns are closer to the eruption which occurred in 1902 rather than in 1979, meaning this eruption is likely to cause more damage and destruction to St Vincent.

Pyroclastic flows began to occur during the explosions from La Soufriere. Pyroclastic flows are extremely “fast moving masses of destruction” containing hot gas, ash and rocks, which kill and destroy everything in their path.

Episodes of tremor were recorded in the last 12 hours and normally lasted up to 20 minutes, with intervals between one and a half and three hours.

Steaming in the upper parts of the Rabacca Valley was observed at around midday. Investigation of the cause of this phenomena was conducted by the scientists.

  • APRIL 12 – LARGE EXPLOSION

The UWI Seismic team observed a large explosion at approximately 4:15am, and pyroclastic flows have been observed on the flanks of the volcano.

Analysis of satellite imagery and comparison with previous images indicate that the explosive eruptions thus far, have destroyed pre-existing domes (1979 and 2020-21).

The Central Water and Sewerage Authority erected temporary stand pipes in several areas to supply communities that are without water. These standpipes can be found at the Biabou playing field, San Souci (around Drop-off), Mt Grenan (by the Anglican Church), Colonaire (by Public Works) and Gorse (at Thomas’ shop) Water distribution to shelters and communities without water commenced today.

NEMO declared that absolutely no one is allowed in the red zone without the permission of the Police. Persons caught in the red zone without the permission of the Police will be immediately arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This applies to both residents and non-residents of communities in the red zone.

A Bolivarian naval vessel, AB Goajira (T-63) arrives in St Vincent from Venezuela with 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid items to assist with relief efforts.

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