Soufrière Hills

Soufrière Hills
Soufrière Hills

The volcano erupting
Elevation 915 m (3,002 ft) [1]
Prominence 915 m (3,002 ft) [1]
Location Montserrat, Caribbean
Coordinates 16°43′N 62°11′W / 16.717°N 62.183°W / 16.717; -62.183Coordinates: 16°43′N 62°11′W / 16.717°N 62.183°W / 16.717; -62.183
Type Stratovolcano
Volcanic arc/belt Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc
Last eruption 2011
2009 ash and steam plume, Soufriere Hills Volcano. Gray deposits that include pyroclastic flows and volcanic mudflows (lahars) are visible extending from the volcano toward the coastline. NASA ISS photo, 11 October 2009
Soufrière Hills before and after a recent partial dome collapse.

The Soufrière Hills volcano (French Sulphur Hills) is an active complex stratovolcano with many lava domes forming its summit on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. After a long period of dormancy, it became active in 1995, and has continued to erupt ever since. Its eruptions have rendered more than half of Montserrat uninhabitable, destroying the capital city, Plymouth, and causing widespread evacuations: about two thirds of the population left the island.

The volcano is andesitic in nature and the current pattern of activity includes periods of dome growth, punctuated by brief episodes of dome collapse which result in pyroclastic flows, ash venting, and explosive eruption.


Eruption Activity


Seismic activity had occurred in 1897–1898, 1933–1937, and again in 1966–1967, but the eruption that began on 18 July 1995 was the first since the 19th century in Montserrat.[2] When pyroclastic flows and mudflows began occurring regularly, Plymouth was evacuated, and a few weeks later a pyroclastic flow covered the city in several metres of debris. The first phreatic explosion in this new period of activity occurred on 21 August 1995, and such activity lasted for 18 weeks until it caused an andesitic lava dome. This was initially confined by a sector-collapse scar. This period lasted for another 60 weeks, after which there were major dome collapses and two periods of explosive Vulcanian eruptions and fountain-collapse pyroclastic flows.[3] It blanketed Plymouth, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) away in a thick layer of ash and darkened the sky almost completely. Earthquakes continue to occur in three epicentral zones: beneath the Soufrière Hills volcano itself, in the ridge running to the north-east and beneath St George's Hill, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the north-west.[4] A large eruption on 25 June 1997 resulted in the deaths of nineteen people. The island's airport was directly in the path of the main pyroclastic flow and was completely destroyed.[5] Montserrat's tourist industry was also destroyed. However, it is now regenerating.

The governments of the United Kingdom and Montserrat led the aid effort, including a £41 million package provided to the people of Montserrat; however, riots followed as the people protested that the British Government was not doing enough to aid relief.[6] This had followed at £10 million aid offer by International Development Secretary Claire Short, prompting the resignation of Bertrand Osborne, then Chief Minister of Montserrat after allegations of being too pro-British and not demanding a better offer.[7] The British destroyer HMS Liverpool took a large role in evacuating Montserrat's population to other islands; this included Antigua and Barbuda, who warned they would not be able to cope with many more refugees.[7] About 7,000 people, or two-thirds of the population, left Montserrat; 4,000 to the United Kingdom.[8]

Since 1999

On 24 December 2006, streaks of red from the pyroclastic flows became visible. On 8 January 2007, an evacuation order was issued for areas in the Lower Belham Valley, affecting an additional 100 people.

At 11:27 pm local time on Monday 28 July 2008, an eruption began without any precursory activity. Pyroclastic flow lobes reached Plymouth. These involved juvenile material originating in the collapse of the eruption column. Further, a small part of the eastern side of the lava dome collapsed, generating a pyroclastic flow in Tar River Valley. Several large explosions were registered, with the largest at approximately 11:38 pm. The height of the ash column was estimated at 12,000 m (40,000 ft) above sea level.

The volcano has become one of the most closely monitored volcanoes in the world since its eruption began, with the Montserrat Volcano Observatory taking detailed measurements and reporting on its activity to the government and population of Montserrat. The observatory is operated by the British Geological Survey under contract to the government of Montserrat.

The 9 October 2008 issue of the journal Science suggests that two interconnected magma chambers lie beneath the surface of the volcano on Montserrat – one six kilometers below the surface and the other at 12 kilometers below the surface. They also show a link between surface behavior and the size of the deeper magma chamber.[9][10]

On 5 February 2010, a vulcanian explosion simultaneously propelled pyroclastic flows down several sides of the mountain, and on 11 February 2010, a partial collapse of the lava dome sent large ash clouds over sections of several nearby islands including Guadeloupe and Antigua. Inhabited areas of Montserrat itself received very little ash accumulation through either event.[11]

In popular culture

Soufrière Hills is the namesake of the Jimmy Buffett song "Volcano".[12]


See also


  1. ^ a b This elevation is for Chance's Peak, the traditional high point. However the lava dome in English's Crater is currently estimated at over 930 m (2006): see The CIA World Factbook on Montserrat.
  2. ^ "Soufrière Hills". Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. 
  3. ^ B. Peter Kokelaar (2002). The eruption of Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat, from 1995 to 1999. p. 1. ISBN 9781862390980. 
  4. ^ Vi︠a︡cheslav Moiseevich Zobin (2003). "Soufrière Hills volcano, Monserrat (6.2.3.)". Introduction to volcanic seismology. 6. pp. 104–7. ISBN 9780444513403. 
  5. ^ "BBC country profile: Montserrat". BBC News. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  6. ^ "UK citizenship for island outposts". The Guardian (London). 18 March 1999.,,308675,00.html. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Montserrat Chief Minister Resigns As People Reject Aid Offer". Politics '97. BBC. Retrieved November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Montserrat evacuation remembered". BBC. 12 September 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  9. ^ Elsworth, D; Mattioli, G; Taron, J; Voight, B; Herd, R (October 2008). "Implications of Magma Transfer Between Multiple Reservoirs on Eruption Cycling.". Science 322 (5899): 246–248. doi:10.1126/science.1161297. PMID 18845752. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  10. ^ Multiple Magma Reservoirs Affect Volcanic Eruption Cycles Newswise, Retrieved on 9 October 2008.
  11. ^ Montserrat Volcano Observatory
  12. ^ Jimmy Buffett "Live in Anguilla" CD/DVD.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Soufriere Hills — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Soufriere Hills es un volcán de la isla de Montserrat que alcanza en una de sus conos la máxima altura de la isla de 915 m. Es un estrovolcan que tiene varios cráteres. Aunque se registró la actividad sísmica durante …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Soufrière — can mean the following:*Soufrière (volcano), a volcano on the island of Saint Vincent in the West Indies *La Grande Soufrière or simply La Soufrière, a volcano in Guadeloupe in the West Indies *Soufrière Hills, a volcano on Montserrat in the West …   Wikipedia

  • Soufrière — puede referirse a: La Soufrière, volcán activo en la isla de Guadalupe. Soufrière Hills, volcán activo en la isla de Montserrat. Soufrière, volcán activo en la isla de San Vicente. Soufrière, distrito de Santa Lucía. Soufrière, localidad cabecera …   Wikipedia Español

  • Soufrière — steht für: einen Vulkan auf Guadeloupe, siehe Soufrière (Guadeloupe) einen Vulkan auf Montserrat, siehe Soufrière Hills einen Vulkan auf St. Vincent, siehe Soufrière (St. Vincent) eine Stadt auf St. Lucia, siehe Soufrière (St. Lucia) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Soufrière (Montserrat) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Soufrière. Soufrière La Soufrière de Montserrat Géographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Soufrière (volcano) — La Soufrière or Soufrière Saint Vincent is a volcano on the island of Saint Vincent in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean. At 1,234m (4,048ft), it is the highest peak on Saint Vincent. Soufrière is the island s northernmost and youngest… …   Wikipedia

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