ROSEAU, Dominica, Tuesday November 22, 2016 – Visitors to Dominica have been urged to avoid the Boiling Lake, a volcano-hydrothermal feature in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, due to a change in water levels.
The warning was issued by the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) and the Forestry Division, in conjunction with the Trinidad and Tobago based Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus.
Water levels at the lake have reportedly been changing in recent days, a phenomenon that has occurred several times since 1876. Significant drops and subsequent restoration of the water levels have been recorded in 1876, 1900, 1901, 1971, 1988 and 2004, as well as on November 8 this year.
While confirming a significant decrease in the water level, UWI scientists noted that the changes are not necessarily related to increased volcanic activity.
“Scientists at the UWI Seismic Research Centre have confirmed that changes in water levels at the Boiling Lake are not necessarily related to increased volcanic activity in the area or to geothermal exploration,” the ODM said in a statement.
“However, during these episodes, harmful gasses, such as carbon dioxide, can be released. Small steam explosions may also occur. The last such occurrence was December 2004 to April 2005.”
Photos posted recently on social media have shown people swimming in the lake, where the water temperature has also dropped significantly.
“It has been brought to the attention of the relevant authorities that people are swimming in the lake as the water is now cold. People involved in this activity should desist with immediate effect since the water can return to its original boiling state with little or no warning,” the ODM said.
“People should also avoid visiting the immediate area until the activity has subsided. Only officials involved in the monitoring of the Boiling Lake should venture in that area,” the ODM added.
The Boiling Lake is situated in Dominica’s World Heritage site 6.5 miles east of Roseau. It is usually filled with bubbling greyish-blue water that is often enveloped in a cloud of vapour.
The lake is approximately 200 to 250 feet across, making it the second-largest hot lake in the world. The largest is Frying Pan Lake, located in Waimangu Valley near Rotorua, New Zealand.
The lake is a flooded fumarole, an opening in the Earth’s crust generally located within the vicinity of a volcano, which emits steam and gases escaping from molten lava below.