Government Information Service

The Volcanic Explanation
For The 24 Hour Period Ending 7 AM On Wednesday May 14, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.

The current alert level is AMBER

During the last 24 hours the pattern of activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano was interupted when at about 8 am on Tuesday a moderate size pyroclastic flow was discharged into the Tar River Valley with little or no warning signs.

The flow travelled down the valley reaching as far as the delta created by previous pyroclastic flows, it eroded a notch in the talus of the dome and created an ash plume which reached as high as 9000 feet. The ash was blown to the southwest by the prevailing winds and quite a large amount of ash fell in Plymouth, Richmond Hill, and the Foxes Bay area.

When the pyroclastic flow event was over after about 10 minutes, the activity returned to the pattern seen over the last few weeks. This included over 100 rockfall signals and over 33 long period earthquakes in the reporting period. In addition there were also 22 small hybrid earthquakes and one single volcano - tectonic event. Within the last few days there has been a 20% increase in the number of rockfalls which shows that the volcano is still extremely dangerous.

Although there has been low cloud cover for the last few days including this morning (Wednesday) there has been vigorous steam venting seen from the area where yesterdays pyroclastic flow started from.

Yeterday's activity shows how dangerous it is in the Tar River Valley and White River Valley areas. Pyroclastic flows can happen at any time and therefore these areas should not be visited under any circumstance.

The alert level remains at AMBER and everyone is urged to wear their ash masks when entering ashy areas.

Government Information Service