Montserrat Volcano Observatory

Special Activity Report at 11:00 am 27 March 1996

At around 06:42 on 27 March (today), an event occurred on the Soufriere Hills Volcano that resulted in the generation of ash cloud that affected some of the western parts of Montserrat, including Plymouth, Dagenham, Richmond Hill and Fox's Bay. The ash plume was estimated to have reached a height of 6000-7000 ft by observers at Bramble Airport. The nature of the signals recorded by the seismographs suggest that the event was not continuous, but involved about seven pulses within a 14-minute period. A second event that resulted in the generation of a smaller ash plume occurred at 07:00 and consisted of three pulses.

A helicopter observation flight shortly afterwards showed that ash from the first event was channeled down the Hot River Ghaut, for about 1 km from the dome, and ignited dead trees. Bigger rock fragments were deposited within a small area much closer to the base of the dome. During the flight, a much smaller ash-producing event was observed at 08:48, but the material did not travel as far as the 06:42 event.

It is probable that the major ash-producing event this morning was a result of collapses of small sections of the eastern flank of the dome and did not involve any explosive component. This will be confirmed by visual observations when weather conditions permit.

These events were anticipated and there is no need for alarm. However, we strongly advise people not to proceed beyond the Tar River Estate house within the next few days. The Observatory staff are continuously monitoring the situation and we will keep the public fully informed of any new developments.

Montserrat Volcano Observatory