The level of activity at the Soufriere Hills volcano has remained high during the last 24 hours. Several explosive eruptions were recorded overnight, and two events just after 3 a.m. produced visible ash plumes.
A moderate regional earthquake was recorded by the seismic network at 12:55 today (Monday). This event had a magnitude of 4.9, and was located at a depth of 180 km close to Dominica.
A series of explosive eruptions followed this event, including two large explosions at 13:54 and 13:57. During this period, near-continuous pyroclastic flows occurred into the Tar River valley, and several large ash clouds were generated. These eruptions were of a similar size as those of Saturday afternoon (6 April). The pyroclastic flow did not reach as far as the flows of Wednesday 3 April, but some trees in the Tar River valley were set alight.
The small hybrid earthquakes that indicate continued dome growth have been recorded again today. Overnight and in the morning the earthquakes occurred at a higher rate than before, of up to two per minute. Following the eruptions this afternoon the rate has decreased.
Low cloud and ash have again restricted observations of the crater area. In the morning, observers from the airport reported that the tall spine had broken in half. During the day, the spine has continued to grow from the base, so that once again it is higher than Chances Peak, and the spine is now much broader than previously. Observations from the helicopter this afternoon suggest that the spine is fractured, and thus it is expected to collapse shortly.
The new Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment was tested today, and it is now operating successfully. It will enable very accurate measurements of the distances between points around the volcano, and it will be integrated with the EDM network.
The volcano is now more active than ever before during the present activity. The scientists are highly concerned, and stress that people must stay out of the Tar River, Long Ground and Whites areas. Visits to other parts of the evacuated zones should be restricted to those that are absolutely essential.