Government Information Service

The Volcanic Explanation
For The 24 Hour Period Ending 7 AM On Tuesday January 21, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.

The activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano over the last 24 hours has been dominated by large pyroclastic flows starting yesterday evening (Monday). These flows, mixtures of hot gas, ash and rocks reached the sea below the Tar River Valley. These flows produced ash clouds reaching 30,000 feet and ash has been dumped over all parts of the island. Reports reaching Montserrat state that ash has also fallen in Antigua and Guadeloupe.

Before the pyroclastic flows started, there was a swarm of volcano - tectonic earthquakes starting at about 4 pm Monday. The flows themselves originated south of Castle peak and travelled via the base of Perches Mountain into the Tar River Valley. Some vedgetation close to the lower sides of Perches Mountain was set ablaze by the pyroclastic flows.

This morning the dome is very clear and helicopter observations are currently underway. The southeastern face of the dome remains very unstable and more pyroclastic flows are expected which could lead to a major collapse of the dome.

The alert level remains at ORANGE but this morning the W.H. Bramble Airport is closed due to ash on the runway. Efforts are being made to clear this ash as this is written and hopefully the airport will become operational later this morning.

Scientists are urging everyone to stay clear of the Long Ground Tar River Valley areas which have been relocated long ago as they are very dangerous.

Government Information Service