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Slight reduction in growth rate of dome, but refrain from visiting Soufriere volcano! – lead scientist

Slight reduction in growth rate of dome, but refrain from visiting Soufriere volcano! – lead scientist
TEAM MEMBERS - Dr Thomas Christopher and Monique Johnson Lynch of the UWI Seismic Research Centre at the summit of La Soufriere setting up equipment and preparing for gas sampling

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The danger associated with La Soufriere is currently restricted to the crater, so the public is once again being asked to refrain from visiting the summit.

This advice has come from Stacey Edwards, education and outreach manager at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Unit (UWI-SRC), who is supported in this position by lead scientist at the UWI-SRC Thomas Christopher.

On Monday, giving an update on the effusive eruption which has been taking place at La Soufriere since December 2020, Christopher said a dome survey was done on Friday.

He said there has been a slight reduction in the growth rate of the dome, but not significant enough to make them think there is a change in what the system is doing. Additional measurements will be taken this week.

Christopher noted that based on how the eruption is progressing, the danger has not increased because the dome is contained and there is no threat of an explosion and no evidence of building pressure.

“The only danger is if you choose to go up to the summit and go down in the crater,” Christopher said, while adding that currently there is no danger to the persons in the red zone.

He however noted that it is difficult to know how long this will go on for.

“We have to understand that these systems are quite complex and they are much larger than we imagine, and there is a large volume of magma probably down there waiting to come out.

“The question is, can the system generate enough energy to erupt that magma?” Christopher commented while adding that initially, his best guess would have been six months, but from observing, it is hard to say how long it will erupt effusively for.

He however noted that rockfall is possible because the material oozing out of the volcano is piling up in an adhoc manner, and as it grows, pieces could fall off and generate rockfall.

Christopher said also that monitoring techniques have been further strengthened in the last week as they have beefed up the GPS and seismic network and the idea is to look at all of the signals to better understand what La Soufriere is doing.

He stressed that a lot of the information they are gathering is new and useful and is helping with understanding La Soufriere.

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