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LEDC Case Study Montserrat (1995-1997)
Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean, it is part of an island arc, a curved string of islands created by
The North/South American plates are being subducted under the Caribbean plate, the melted plate, mixed
with seawater is less dense than the rest of the mantle so rises upwards.
The dissolved gases are released when the magma gets higher up, this is because the pressure is lower in
The released gases pushed out the dust and ash from previous eruptions, the volcano has been active
July 1995 Chances peak started erupting, everybody thought it was extinct, the dust and ash was a
warning, scientists came and started monitoring gases coming out and changes in the shape of the
August 1995 People were evacuated to the north of the island.
April 1996 Everybody had to leave the capital city, Plymouth.
June 1997 The south of the island was covered by rivers of hot ash, gases, mud and rock these are
What were the effects?
19 people who decided to stay in the south were killed.
More than half of all Montserrat citizens left to go to the USA, Antigua and the UK (They are a UK colony).
Forests and rich farmland destroyed and covered in deep layers of ash.
Dust covered the whole island, making it difficult to breathe.
The lost lots of money and the tourists have gone; they used to get over 2000 per year.
There were huge fires.
They lost 2/3rds of their houses and infrastructure.
Many villages were buried in ash.
The capital city, Plymouth, (port, industrial and administrative centre) was almost totally destroyed and
The only hospital was destroyed.
Many roads were destroyed.
The only airport was burned and engulfed in ash.
What were responses?
The authorities and people were totally unprepared as the volcano had been dormant for 400 years.
Scientists monitored the volcano and set up warning systems via loudspeaker, radio and sirens.
The UK government sent £17 million aid temporary buildings, water purification systems etc. Also
charities (e.g. Red Cross) set up temporary schools.
People were evacuated to the north of the island (in tents/makeshift homes with little food, poor
sanitation and no power) and then to other countries, the population dropped from 11000 to 3500.
In 2005, the south of the island was still out of bounds, scientists were still monitoring the volcano.
People moved back, in 2005 the population had risen to 8000.
The UK government funded a 3-year development plan for houses, schools, medical services, agriculture
and infrastructure which cost £122.8 million.