Montserrat Today

For Monday November 10, 1997
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department


During the course of last week (up until yesterday, Sunday) the level of activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano remained at a very high level. The rate of extrusion was at about 8 cubic metres per second and the dome continued to grow.

During the week there were two major dome collapses, both shedding about 2 million cubic metres off the dome. These went down the White River Valley to O'Garro's as pyroclastic flows and both reached the sea. Simultaneously there were rockfalls in the Tar River Valley and in the Gages Valley.

The ash clouds produced by these flows reached to about 15,000 feet and the majority of the ash was blown towards the Plymouth area.

Hybrid swarms continued for most of last week with periods of tremor, some of the swarms lasted for over 48 hours. There was also ash venting during the week. Good visibility in the week allowed a GPS survey of the dome to be completed and it was clearly seen that the collapses had caused an horsehoe shaped crater on the dome. The dome is now about 80 million cubic metres in volume.

Over the weekend the seismic activity remained relatively high and this morning hybrid swarms were continuing. The current swarm is now over 40 hours old. It is expected that there will be more pyroclastic flows in the very near future.


Residents had an opportunity to see for themselves over the weekend why there is no admittance to the exclusion zone at the present time. TV viewers of Channel 5 saw footage of damage by pyroclastic flows taken last week by MVO staff.

The scenes were of desolation and totally blocked roads (where roads existed at all) and it is obvious that any movement in the zone would be extremely slow if possible.

With the current hybrid earthquake swarms shaking the dome into collapses, materials could flow down all flanks of the dome in all directions. The film footage showed that with all ghauts now filled in any major flow could easily enter the Belham River Valley. If this ever happened, surges could impact Salem, Friths, Happy Hill and Old Towne. The exclusion zones are therefore extremely dangerous.


Mrs Candia Williams of the Montserrat office based in Antigua was in Montserrat over the weekend for discussions with officials about the plight of Montserratian families based in Antigua. She particularly expressed concern over the condition of the elderly Montserratians based in Antigua.


The recently restructured Volcano Management Support Group had its first meeting on Friday. The group now has six sub committees, namely National Planning (chaired by the Director of Development), Health (chaired by Permanent Secretary Health), Production (chaired by Permanent Secretary Agriculture), Infrastructure (chaired by Permanent Secretary Communications & Works), Human Resource Management (chaired by Permanent Secretary Administration) and Information chaired by Permanent Secretary Chief Minister's Office).

The six sub committees will hold their own meetings and then report back to the VMSG at their weekly meetings.


The Sports Department of the Ministry of Education, Health & Community Services has started a programme of sports for children at the Brades basketball court. This is to help the children who are currently not in primary school because of a shortage of buildings. The sports programme will continue when school starts later this week at the new Brades site.


The Emergency Department late last week emptied the temporary shelter at the St Johns Nursery School of its last residents. The building has been turned back over to the Ministry of Education for use as a nursery school.

Officials from the Ministry report that about 50 children have been registered for nursery school places and that after cleaning of the St Johns facility it is hoped to re-open the facility later this week.

In a related matter, the Emergency Dept has also emptied the shelter at Cavalla Hill Methodist Church and handed it back over to church authorities.


The shortage of LPG for cooking is over. The M.V. Endeavour arrived at the Little Bay Port on Friday with 600 full cylinders of gas. Public distribution starts today but all the shelters were supplied with the commodity over the weekend, thus ending a shortage that has lasted several weeks.

More information tomorrow....................................

Presented by the Information & Education Unit, Emergency Dept
St Johns Village, Montserrat, Leeward Islands, West Indies.
Tel 664 491 7166, Fax 664 491 2474, E Mail:
Richard Aspin, Unit Co-ordinator.