Volcano Case Studies


Montserrat Eruptions 1995-

Background to Case study

Montserrat is a British Colonoy

Once known as the Emerland isle due to lush vegetation

Why is there an Volcano at Montserrat?

Soufriere Hills volcano on the Island of Montserrat in the Carribeean sea

Part of the Antilles Island Arc, created at a destructive margin at oceanic/oceanic plate

The oceanic Crust of the North American Plate is sinking under the Carribean Plate forming an Island Arc

It is a compositie/Strata as the layers are built up of ash and igneous rock from other eruptions - makes it ryholite lava

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Prediction and protection methods?

As the volcano has laid dormaint for 400 years, there was a lack of protocol and understanding of what to do if it erupted

No observatory in place

No evacutation methods

No disaster plan at Montserrat

Buildings constructied in the 1990's in the valleys of the Volcanoe which were destroyed - lack of planning

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Nature of the Eruption

  •  1995 starting with frequent earthquakes, eruptions of steam and ash reaching heights of 2,500m, lahars
  •  1997 - relatively quiet period until then but from Jan there was series of earthquakes and in July height of the eruption there was extensive pyroclastic flows, lahars and 4-5 million sq meters of material erupted. This is when Englishes Crater exploed violenty - the majoity of gas had escaped but some remained leading to explosive eruption.
  • Magma had reached depth of 6km before partly crysitalising before a new injecton of magma boosted it towards the surface v
  • Explosive Ryholite Lava
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Hazards at Montserrat Soufriere Volcano

Pyroclastic flow - Intially nothwards but then flowed down all four valley sides of the volcano - Tar River valley - 19 died from the result of a pyrcclastic flow  - destroyed plymouth airport

Lahars - Due to multihazard area, due to its tropical climate - there was much water laying on the volcano so mixed to form lahars - crops and vegetation were damaged

Ash falls - ash clouds reached 40,000 ft - day became night and crops and houses were damaged - lung diseases from fine ash particles, Ash travelled 90 miles to Antiequa

Gas - Co2 killed plants and animals

Only 40km 2 of 100km 2 was inhabitable

south part of the Island was inhabitiable

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short term Impacts of The eruption

2/3 of homes destroyed, others lost value (totally 1 billion)

20 villages destroyed

the Capital Plymoth was buried under 10m of ash and mud

airport and docking facilities destroyed in pyroclasitc flow on 21st septemeber 1997

19 died

schools destroyed

Tourism which accounted for large amounts of GDP gone - although some come to look at volcano

fire spready which ruined building such as the goverment buiding, the police station

farmland and vegetation destroyed

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Long term impacts of the Eruption

local economy failed to rebuilding and tourism decline as people moved away

unemployment on the island rose from 7% to 50%

population decline, 8000 out of 12000 moved away from the Island as a result of damage, 4,000 migrated to the UK

Respiratory problems

skills shortage on the Island

  • more fertile soils from the minerals in the rock to farm on now
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Managment of the Hazard - emergancy managment

Exclusion zones set up - risk map created which exluded the south area

evacuation of 7,000 islanders to other islands nearby or the UK

resettlement to the more safer north part of the Island

shelters to house evacuees (5,000 lived in them)

local aid and emergancy services called in

UK government gave £17 million in emergancy aid

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Long Term managment of the Hazard

Montserrat Volcanoe observatory set up to monitor the volcaneo to help predict therefore make it easier to manage in future

construction of new airpiort in 2005 cost £11 million

Extensive seimsograph system around the volcano

earth dection system

UK government invested into services in Montserrat - attempts to restore tourist indusry

instrument called COSPEC used to monitor gases

county policy focuses on redevelopment of the land  - UK government spend £100 million on assisting migration and investing into services on Monserrat

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