Possible ‘beginning of the end’ to Montserrat volcano eruptions
BRADES, Montserrat, September 14, 2009 – The eruptions at Montserrat’s Soufrière Hills volcano could be coming to an end.
The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) – a group of expert volcanologists that have long term associations with the volcano – came to that conclusion when they met recently to discuss the behaviour of the volcano and the risk that it poses.
In its preliminary report the SAC said that while gas continues to be released at rates similar to those seen throughout the eruption, “the number of earthquakes recorded has fallen to the lowest level we have seen during the eruption”.
"This, together with the pattern of shorter duration extrusion events seen in the last 18 months, suggests that the long-term behaviour may have changed. One interpretation of this is that it hints at a possible ‘beginning of the end’ of the eruption, though all the formal end-of-eruption criteria are not yet met,” the report added.
The SAC said that the volcano has had a quiet six months since the last report and there was no extrusion of new lava and no explosions in that period. Surface activity was restricted to rockfalls and occasional small pyroclastic flows from the dome, together with mudflows.
The Committee warned, however, that the risks presented by the volcano to those living closest to it have changed very little, and that “sudden resumption of explosive and extrusive activity can rapidly pose a threat” to adjacent zones.