Government Information Service

The Volcanic Explanation
For The 24 Hour Period Ending 6 PM On Sunday 01 December, 1996
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO

Over the last 24 hours there has been increased activity at the Soufriere Hills volcano with the swarm of volcano- tectonic earthquakes continuing.

Today (Sunday) there have been 178 of these VT's as they are better known as, all of them located at shallow depths below the crater, they are usually an indication that new magma is heading for the surface and fracturing rock in the process.

In addition to the VT's there was one regional earthquake recorded today and six rockfall signals, three of which came from Galways Wall.

The wall was carefully inspected from the helicopter today and looks very unstable. If further avalanches occur it could expose hot gas filled magma which could trigger an explosion. This would cause major damage to St Patricks and the surrounding area and if Galways Wall does collapse there will be a further escalation of volcanic activity.

The viewing conditions were excellent today and good views of the dome were obtained. The October 1st dome continues to grow and seems to be concentrated on the northern sector from where material might soon start spilling out and piling up against the Farrell's Wall.

Scientists over the weekend have been making an assessment over the weekend of the possible effects of a collapse of the Galways Wall. The findings are that a small tsunami or tidal wave may be formed which would impact on Guadeloupe and because of this a team of French scientists will join the MVO this week to see how much of an impact there would be on Guadeloupe. The world's foremost expert on crater rim walls, Dr Barry Voight from the U.S.A. arrives here tomorrow to help in the assessment of the status of the Galways Wall.

The situation at the volcano therefore remains very serious and because of this we are in the ORANGE state of alert. At this stage Zones A and B are "no go" areas and should not be visited at all. In addition there should be no one living in Zones A,B,C, and D at this stage.

If the Galways Wall collapses there could be little or no notice and therefore residents must remain vigilant. If the sirens sound at any time please tune your radio into ZJB for the public announcement informing everyone of the appropriate action.

Government Information Service