Volcanic Eruption Case Study

A study on a volcanic eruption.

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The Soufriere Hills Volcano

The Soufrire Hills Volcano In Montserrat Erupted In 1997

Date of Eruption: June 25th 1997 (small eruptions started in July 1995)

Size Of Eruption: Large- 4-5 million m3 of rocks and gas released.

Death Toll: 19 Killed.

Cause: 1) Montserrat is above a destructive plate margin, where the Atlantic plate is being forced under the Carribean plate.

2) Magma rose up through weak points under the Soufriere hills forming an underground pool of magma.

3) The rock above the pool collapsed, opening a vent and causing an eruption.

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Impacts -Primary

The Primary Impacts Of The Volcanic Eruption

1) Large areas were covered with volcanic material- the capital city Plymouth was buried under 12 m of mud and ash.

2) Over 20 villages and two thirds of homes on the island were destroyed by pyroclastic flows (fast-moving clouds of super-heated gas and ash).

3) Schools, hospitals, the airport and the port were destroyed.

4) Vegetation and farmland were destroyed.

5) 19 people died and 7 were injured.

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Impacts- Secondary

The Secondary Impacts Of The Soufriere Volcano

1) Fires destroyed many buildings including local government offices, the police headquarters and the town's central police station.

2) Tourists stayed away and businesses were destroyed, disrupting the economy.

3) Population decline- 8000 of the island's 12000 inhabitants have left since eruptions began in 1995.

4) Volcanic ash from the eruption has improved soil fertility.

5) Tourism on the island is now increasing as people come to see the volcano.

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Responses- Immediate

The Immediate Responses Of The Soufriere Volcano

1) People were evacuated from the south to safe areas in the north.

2) Shelters were built to house evacuees.

3) Temporary infrastructure was also built, e.g. roads and electricity supplies.

4) The UK provided £17 million of emergency aid (Montserrat's an overseas territory of the UK).

5) Local emergency services provided support units to search for and rescue survivors.

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Responses- Long-Term

The Long-Term Responses Of The Soufriere Volcano

1) A risk map was created and an exclusion zone is in place. The south of the island is off-limits while the volcano is still active.

2) The UK has provided £41 million to develop the north of the island- new docks, an airport and houses have been built in the north.

3) The Montserrat Volcano Observatory has  been set up to try and predict future eruptions.

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