Pyroclastic flow and explosive activity of the lava dome of Soufriere Hills volcano, Ontserrat, during a period of no magma extrusion (March 1998 - November 1999)

G. E. Norton, R. B. Watts, B. Voight, G. S. Mattioli, R. A. Herd, S. R. Young, J. D. Devine, W. P. Aspinall, C. Bonadonna, B. J. Baptie, M. Edmonds, C. L. Harford, A. D. Jolly, S. C. Loughlin, R. Luckett, R. S. J. Sparks

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Dome growth at Soufrière Hills Volcano halted in early March 1998. After dome growth ceased, seismicity reduced significantly, but activity related to dome disintegration and degassing of magma at depth continued. A sustained episode of pyroclastic flows on 3 July 1998 marked the single largest collapse from March 1998 to November 1999. This led to a remarkable episode of dome collapses, low-energy explosions and ash-venting that resulted in the regular production of ash plumes, commonly reaching 1.5-6 km above sea level (a.s.l), but sometimes up to 11 km a.s.l., and the development of a small block-and-ash cone around the explosion crater. During the period of this residual activity, higher levels of activity occurred approximately every five to six weeks. This periodicity was similar to the cycles observed during active dome growth during 1995 to 1998, and probably had a similar cause. The relatively high level of observed activity caused continued concern regarding volcanic hazards and their potential to impact upon the resident population. Vigorous magma extrusion resumed in November 1999. The activity of the intervening period is attributed to the continued cooling and degassing of the dome, conduit and deep magma body, the impact of rising volcanic gases in the volcanic edifice, and limited magma flow in the conduit.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, from 1995 to 1999
EditorsTH Druitt, BP Kokelaar
PublisherGeological Society London, Memoir No 21
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2002

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