The smell of sulfur is ubiquitous, and gray volcanic ash has covered the tiny island of 100,000 people, 390 square kilometers, smaller than Budapest. Even during the day, the island is dark, and the power went out after the volcano erupted Sunday morning, Hungarian time.
The volcanic ash cloud is spreading eastward and a similar dangerous situation has developed on the island of Barbados. According to the first measurements, 0.4 million tons of sulfur dioxide is released into the atmosphere during each eruption, the highest value measured in the region since recent instrumental observations.
Update: According to the latest assessment by local volcanologists, the nature of volcanic activity is very similar to the eruption of 1902, and there is a possibility that the collapse of the eruption cloud could eventually lead to a spike in the prices of destructive lava.
The situation is dangerous and the outlook is not good either
La Soufriere volcano rarely erupts, but if it does, it will have dire consequences. In historical times, this was the fifth outbreak after 1718, 1812, 1902 and 1979. At the end of April 1902, it erupted a few days before Mount Pele in neighboring Martinique.
The eruption of La Soufriere volcano killed 1,700 people and the eruption of Mount Pele volcano nearly 30,000 people.
These eruptions fundamentally changed the concept of volcanic observation and led to the creation of volcanic observatories to allow continuous monitoring. The eruption of La Soufriere volcano in 1902 was tragic, destroying the last remnants of indigenous culture in the Caribbean. Then we had to wait more than 70 years for the next major eruption, but then accurate volcanic projections saved tens of thousands of lives.
The eruption of La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent from the GOES 30 minutes ago. The volcanic plume evolved on an entire other time / energy level compared to atmospheric convection, or even PyroCb wildfires. An average scan of 1 minute duration is essential to solve the details! #LaSoufriere #LaSoufriereEruption pic.twitter.com/MsIWTO8MmW
– Michael Charnick (@charnick_wx) April 10, 2021
In fog: Ash erupted across more than 100 miles of ocean from the newly erupted La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent to create a frightening dark red haze over Barbados on a Saturday afternoon. https://t.co/RBly8CUVPE pic.twitter.com/0HeezPiuKZ
– CBS News (CBSNews) April 11, 2021
After recognizing the signs, the evacuation began
Heroes are not only in books, tales and movies. They’re around us, too, working and then there is an event, a moment when they get to use their skills. Richard Robertson was a child when La Soufriere volcano’s last eruption occurred. She also contributed to his studies to become a volcanologist and then to become a fellow at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. At that time, eruptions occurred at Soufriere Hill volcano, which devastated the southern part of the Caribbean island. Then he became the head of the Volcanic Monitoring Team at the University of the West Indies.
At the end of 2020, the business day has come for decades. At the end of December, a volcanic eruption erupted in the birthplace of La Soufriere crater. The eruption did not receive much media attention as there was only a slow lava outcrop. This process continued until early April, and my lava swelled to millions of cubic meters. I be
In the last days of March, Robertson noticed unusual signs of an earthquake.
So-called volcanic earthquake signals are becoming more and more common, which can be related to the formation of fractures and fissures under the pressure of magma elevation. In addition, continuous earthquake signs were also shown on the earthquake graph, indicating magma movement. The signs came and then disappeared, then were again visible.
Then, on April 7, an increased flow of gas was observed around the lava in the crater, and fragments of the lava ruptured. It was clear to Robertson that a huge eruption could start at any time.
On April 9, the highest readiness was issued and accordingly the Prime Minister ordered deportation.
About 20,000 people live in the red. The road network on the island is weak, so people were transported by boat, which also had to comply with regulations due to the epidemiological situation of the virus. Less than 24 hours after the evacuation began, the volcano erupted, and the volcanic ash cloud rose to a height of more than 12 kilometers.
If Robertson doesn’t recognize the signs well or wait another day or two, news sources may have reported a tragic event.
What is expected?
This requires knowledge of the volcano’s prior operation, which also requires volcanic experience. Eruptions at La Soufriere are not usually a one-off event, but volcanic activity can take days or even weeks. Says
Repeated large explosive outbreaks can be expected,
As it happened in the last day and a half. Based on volcanic eruptions to date, we can say that this is one of the largest and most destructive volcanic eruptions of the 21st century.
Since 1902, science has evolved a lot. Volcanologists’ work has helped make accurate predictions, but something else is needed to make them effective:
Significant efforts have been made in recent years to prepare the local population.
Although many of them do not remember the eruption of 1979, they also had to accept that life on Green Island could change overnight, and a dangerous volcanic eruption could occur. The information and exercises helped ensure that the majority of the population knew in a disciplined manner what to do in dangerous situations. Hence, along with monitoring and population preparation, this is essential for effective volcanic eruption prediction and risk management – this is increasingly required. A similar case has been identified in the vicinity of Taal volcano in the Philippines, where nearly two million people already live, and signs indicate magma movement – closed with a warning Szabolcs Harangi, Hungarian Academy of Sciences correspondent member, institute director and head of the research group.
Nyitókép: Instagram / CBS News / @ alecdray / Storyful