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Ocean Safety 2023 - New Identity - LEADERBOARD

Heading for the Caribbean this winter? Do you know where the 17 volcanoes are?

by Daria Blackwell 1 Nov 2023 18:22 UTC

Richard Robertson monitors seismic activity across the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean. Find out which volcanos are most active in the region.

Richard Robertson was a teenager on the Caribbean island of St Vincent when a volcano called La Soufrière erupted unexpectedly on 13 April 1979. Then he became a volcanologist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre on Trinidad.

His team tracks 17 volcanoes across the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean, using GPS to monitor seismic activity and ground deformation.

In December 2020, a lava dome formed on La Soufrière. This was during the Covid pandemic when OCC was mounting a major effort to help cruisers who were stuck behind closed borders with few resources. We couldn't believe that not only did we have to deal with a pandemic but also with a potential volcanic eruption. What other plague would affect cruisers in this part of the world in this tense time?

In April 2021, the volcano erupted explosively, the first time since 1979, but caused less damage than it caused in its last really big eruption, in 1902. Fortunately, they evacuated most of the people in harm's way. Nevertheless, the ash affected cruisers on other islands including Bequia and elsewhere throughout the Grenadines where every day ash fell and occupied every nook and cranny of anchored vessels and Covid masks found new uses when breathing became difficult. Evacuation was difficult if not impossible with Covid restrictions in place.

Richard reports that several volcanoes on Dominica have shown signs of activity in the past decade or so. Montserrat has been rumbling since 1995 and the volcanoes on Martinique and Guadeloupe are also fairly active. Aside from a submarine volcano near Grenada called Kick 'em Jenny, La Soufrière remains the most active in the Lesser Antilles archipelago. It pays to have contingency plans in place for what you will do if a volcano warning is issued.

Kick 'em Jenny erupted during 23-24 July 2015 and again in a short-lived eruption on 29 April 2017 as reported by the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Most recently, the UWI SRS and the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) reported that a period of elevated seismicity at Kick 'em Jenny was recorded over a seven-day period in June of 2020. Hence an exclusion zone is recommended around the undersea volcano which varies between 1.5 km and 5 km depending on the degree of activity.

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

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