Residents of Martinique and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are on the alert as long-dormant volcanoes are rumbling back to life. La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Martinique’s Mt. Pelee showed recent signs of volcanic and seismic activity.
In a release, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) announced it is closely monitoring the ongoing situation at the La Soufrière volcano as officials reported tremors, gas emissions, the formation of a new volcanic dome and changes to its crater lake.
The CDEMA said that scientists observed an “effusive eruption within the crater, with visible gas and steam” on Dec. 29.
Scientists with the Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies said the magma reaching the surface is forming a growing dome in La Soufrière’s crater.
The La Soufrière volcano is located near the northern tip of the island of St. Vincent, and the government warned people living near the volcano to prepare to evacuate if necessary. The government issued an orange alert, meaning eruptions could occur with less than 24 hours notice.
The last time La Soufrière erupted in 1979, more than 20,000 people were evacuated. An eruption in 1902 killed 1,565 people and before that, the last major eruption was in 1812.
Mt. Pelee, in Martinique, also became active recently. In early Dec., officials with the Martinique volcanological and seismological observatory issued a yellow alert as seismic activity was recorded under the mountain.
An increase in seismic activity since April 2019 and the detection of two tremors on Nov. 8 and 9 led the observatory to recommend raising the alert level.
Mt. Pelée has experienced at least four eruptions over the past 250 years, including the infamous eruption from 1902 that destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre, killing more than 30,000 people. The last eruption was in 1932.
Sources: AP, CDEMA, PGP (Institut de physique du globe de Paris), weather.com