The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) reports an easing of volcano-seismic events at the island's Soufriere Hills Volcano. According to the MVO evening report of Friday, December 8, 1995, "the level of seismicity has decreased since 5am this morning. The background tremor recorded over the past few days has completely subsided." By the following morning, Saturday, December 9, "low frequency tremor had been replaced by short periods of low amplitude broadband tremor possibly related to steaming at the surface [of English's Crater]."
The news comes one week after the Government of Montserrat, on the advise of MVO scientists, ordered the relocation of some six thousand (6,000) residents of the southern half of Montserrat. On Friday, December 1, 1995 scientists had visual confirmation of a lava dome growing from a vent created on July 18th (the day of the first phreatic eruption of the current crisis). The MVO had indicated that "the chance of an eruption involving the new dome may increase in the next few weeks."
On the Friday evening, December 8th live-radio interaction with journalists on Montserrat, MVO Chief Scientist, Mr Lloyd Lynch said that the easing of volcanic activity is "indicative of a slowing in the dome growth ... and while the dome growth may be coming to a halt these things (volcanoes) operate in cycles with one day growth rate being high and the next day slow and two days later it may increase again." Related dome growth events at the Soufriere Hills Volcano reached a peak on Wednesday, December 6, 1995 and "has been on the decline since then," says Mr Lynch.
While scientists feel the dome growth may be coming to a halt the significant slowing is no indication that the danger has passed. This is despite, according to Mr Lynch, the scientific data confirming a slowing in dome growth as opposed to their being some resistance to the upward movement of magma. Glowing of the dome can still be observed from helicopter flights over the crater.
A dome collapse and consequential destructive activity due to black and ash flows mainly in the island's far east, where there is a breach in the crater wall, is still feared. MVO measurement techniques and instrumentation are being rationalized to arrive at a comprehensive update of what is happening on Montserrat's Soufriere Hills at this juncture.
Residents relocated as of December 1, 1995 remain in the northern half of Montserrat from where government and private sector businesses continue to serve the public. Only essential services including power plant are operating out of the capital, Plymouth which is included in the designated unsafe zone.