Friday, February 12, 2010


From the Washington Post February 12, 2010
Montserrat volcano shoots plume of ash 9 miles into sky, forces evacuation of village


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A volcano on Montserrat shot ash some nine miles (15 kilometres) into the sky Thursday, one of its most dramatic events since a devastating 1997 eruption that drove away half the Caribbean island's population.

The partial collapse of the dome in the volcano's crater also unleashed flows of hot gas and rocks, triggering sirens for the evacuation of about 20 people from a nearby village.

Paul Cole, director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, said it appeared to be the most material ejected by the volcano in about four years. He estimated 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the hardened lava dome had collapsed.

"When we're looking at the lava dome now, there's a large scoop out of it that's missing," Cole said.

The dome has crumbled several times since the volcano became active in 1995, and Cole said it is possible activity will settle down as the dome builds itself up again. He said there is no immediate cause for concern about more dangerous eruptions.

The 1997 eruption killed 19 people and buried much of the island, including its former capital, Plymouth, which is now abandoned. Half the British territory's 12,000 inhabitants left.

for a map go here.

Monserrat is a tiny island just east of Dominica. The prevailing winds are westerly, therefore, we, in Dominica are getting a rain of volcanic ash. It is everywhere and accumulating. The usually lush green vegetation is dusted with fine white dust. The sky is hazy. I can feel it on this keyboard as I type. By the time I got home from Portsmouth this morning my mouth and eyes were gritty. I can taste the sulphur. People with breathing problems will have trouble. The fine dust, combined with the usual dust and exhaust emissions can only make things worse.

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