Montserrat Volcano Observatory

Daily Report
Report for the period 4 pm 2 June
to 4 pm 3 June 1997
The current alert level is ORANGE

Volcanic activity increased today, with pyroclastic flows in the Tuitt's Ghaut to the north of the volcano. The flows travelled about 1.4 km. The situation is very serious, with a high likelihood of flows travelling further down the ghaut in the next few days. The villages of Whites, Tuitt's, Bramble, Bethel, Farms, Pea Ghaut, Harris, Farrell's, Riley's and Streatham are at risk, and have been moved into zones A and B of the risk map. Nobody should be in these zones after 6 pm tonight, and the road blocks will be repositioned tomorrow so that there is no access to the central corridor. WH Bramble airport remains safe at this time.

The pyroclastic flow activity was at a moderate level between 8 am and 11 am this morning. The largest flows in the Tuitt's Ghaut were at 10:11 am and 10:31 am, and travelled as far as the first bend in the ghaut at the top of Paradise Estate. The flows burned a lot of the vegetation in the upper reaches of the ghaut, knocked down trees in the first 500 metres, and eroded the gap in the crater wall at the top of the ghaut, making it wider and deeper. Moderate ash clouds were generated, and blown to the west over Foxes Bay and Plymouth. There were also several small pyroclastic flows in the south side of the Tar River valley.

This afternoon the pyroclastic flow activity lessened, although a lot of rockfalls were heard from the dome.

The level of earthquake activity remains low, with only 6 hybrid and 5 long-period earthquakes recorded in the last 24 hours. The recorded rockfall activity was about the same as yesterday, with 126 events. The pyroclastic flow activity in the last week has followed a pattern, with most of the activity occurring in a 4 hour period, with a gap of 16 to 20 hours until the next increase in activity. Some pyroclastic flows occur outside the periods on enhanced activity, and there is no guarantee that this pattern will continue. The next period of increased activity is due between 4 and 8 am tomorrow.

EDM measurements were made of the northern triangle this afternoon. The initial results suggest that there has been little change to the distances between St George's Hill, Farrell's, and Windy Hill.

COSPEC runs were made today. The wind is still from the south-east, and so the road between Plymouth and Lees was used. The results will be processed soon. Yesterday's readings gave a sulphur dioxide flux of 477 tonnes per day, a slight decrease on recent results.

More pyroclastic flows are expected in Tuitt's Ghaut in the next few days, and it is likely that these flows will travel further than before. The pyroclastic flows will probably be confined to the ghaut, but there is a risk of surge clouds affecting areas along side the ghaut. Mosquito and White's Ghaut could also be a pathway for pyroclastic flows. These conditions make the villages mentioned above extremely dangerous, and people should not visit these areas.

Montserrat Volcano Observatory