Government Information Service

The EOC Today
For Wednesday October 01, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.

In the last 36 hours there has been a total of six (6) explosive eruptions from the Soufriere Hills Volcano. The last of these was at 11.30 am this morning. The explosions and subsequent pyroclastic flows caused ash to go to heights of between 10000 and 25000 feet and mainly it was blown westwards by prevailing winds. Following each explosion there was a period of ash and steam venting from the dome.

The pyroclastic flows over the last 36 hours have reached the Tar River delta, have gone down the Gages Valley, down Tuitt's Ghaut to below Harris' Lookout, down Tyers Ghaut and into the White River reaching as far as O'Garros.

The seismic network associated with the MVO has recorded a large number of volcano-tectonic (VT's) earthquakes and a smaller number of hybrid events. The VT's were located at depths of between 1 and 2 kilometres beneath the crater.

Further explosions are likely and pyroclastic flows could easily reach the Belham Valley's lower reaches, any remaining residents close to the area are being urged to move immediately. When explosions occur everyone should remain indoors or wear hard hats if outdoors.

Ash levels are high and everyone is urged to wear their ash masks which are readily available from clinics.


Over yesterday afternoon and evening a large number of residents left Salem which is now part of the exclusion zone. EOC officials, the Parliamentary representative for the district, and His Excellency the Governor all assisted in the move. The majority of persons who have moved from the Salem district have found private accommodation or have moved into new shelters constucted at Look-Out near St Johns. The total exclusion zone is now the entire area south of a line drawn from Nantes River in the west to Pelican Ghaut in the east. The exclusion zone is under a 6 pm to 6 am curfew and at any other time special permission must be obtained for entry. At the moment no entry is being granted as the volcanic situation is too dangerous.


The MVO released the following international press release entitled "Explosions continue at Montserrat's volcano" on 29/9/97:

" The Eastern Caribbean island of Montserrat continues to be showered with ash and pumice as twice-daily explosions from the volcano send eruption columns to 40,000 feet. Twenty explosions have occurred in the past week following a huge collapse of the lava dome on September 21st. This collapse produced rivers of hot rock and gas (pyroclastic flows) which overran the island's airport and several villages on the eastern side of the island.

Explosions occur without warning and produce pumice (frothy rock) and ash which is thrust upwards and outwards producing a tall eruption column and pyroclastic flows down the flanks of the volcano. Depending on the direction of the wind, the ash and pumice falls either out to sea or on western parts of the island. Lightening and thunder is produced in the eruption column and muddy rain often falls soon after explosions.

Scientists monitoring the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano over the past 2 years have built up a good understanding of its behaviour. However exact predictions of explosions are impossible, and the events usually occur without clear precursory earthquake activity.

This phase of explosive activity is expected to continue for some time, although there are no indications that the explosions will be very much larger than those of the past week. The nature of these explosions does not change recent assessments of the volcano by scientists, which concluded that the northern part of Montserrat was safe from all but the most unlikely of eruptions. (END)


The Governor, H.E. Mr Anthony Abbott will today chair a meeting to look at the management of shelters in the ongoing crisis. A number of agencies, NGO's and Government Depts have been invited to the meeting.

More tomorrow.............................................

The EOC Information Unit, St Johns, Montserrat, West Indies.
Tel 664 491 7166 Fax 664 491 2474 E Mail:
Richard Aspin, Information Co-ordinator.

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