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Scientific Press Briefing - Montserrat
6 December 1995

Scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory have classified two areas in the east of the island as very dangerous. The high risk areas on the island's east side include Tar River and Long Ground down to White's yard.

The Soufriere Hills Volcano activity has been summarized by scientists as being "at an equilibrium." The current levels of recorded seismic activity have been the highest since the crisis began July 18, 1995. Volcanologist Dr Simon Young of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory says the three domes in English's crater continue to merge into one. The largest dome has been growing "somewhere between five (5) and ten (10) metres vertically per day on our best effort at calculating it," says Dr Young.

Scientific evaluation to date suggest a collapse of the crater's most prominent dome with most of the magma (molten rock) avalanching down the east side. A breach on the east side of the crater (created by eruptive activity around 1632) offers an opening down which mud-flows from the volcano have already caused major inundation. Farmers of this mostly agricultural community have been cut off from cultivations in areas beyond Tar River for several months now.

Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) scientists are also looking closely at what they term could be a significant threat to the capital, Plymouth if the dome grows above the Gage's crater wall on the west side of the volcano. According to Dr Simon Young there is also "a very small chance of an explosion which will be a danger to the entire southern part of Montserrat island."

The MVO says all areas which remain south of the Belham Valley River line (demarcation line used during the August relocation) "remain safe unless there is a drastic change in the nature of volcanic activity." Those areas include Richmond Hill, Weekes, Delvin's and Cork Hill which lie in the shadow of St. George's Hill which is due north of the Soufriere Hills volcano.

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