Soufrière Volcano | John Seach


St. Vincent Island
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

13.33 N, 61.18 W
summit elevation 1220 m

Soufrière volcano is located on St Vincent Island, Caribbean, south of St Lucia. The volcano is located in the northern half of the 30 km long island, and is one of the most active volcanoes in the Lesser Antilles island arc. Four volcanic centres are identified at the volcano.

The Yellow Tephra Formation was deposited during explosive eruptions 4300 years ago. The formation consists of black scoria, yellow lapilli and pumiceous tuff.

Historically, explosive and effusive eruptions have alternated at the volcano (Aspinall et al. 1973). This activity is explained by successive eruptions creating and destroying the lava pile which is required for explosive interaction between new magma and lake water.

Historic eruptions at the volcano (since 1718) have caused over 1600 deaths.

2021 Eruption
A lava dome is growing at Soufriere Volcano, St Vincent during January 2021. Some residents have been advised to evacuate their homes. The alert level was raised to ORANGE on 2 January 2021. Access to the volcano is prohibited due to the risk of pyroclastic flows and explosive eruptions. Large explosive eruption on 9 April 2021. Ash emissions reach 52,000 ft altitude. Numerous lightning strikes in volcanic cloud. Evacuation of population close to the volcano.

2005 Sulphurous Odours
In February 2005 sulphurous odours and haze was reported on the island of St. Vincent and as far as the Grenadines 50-75 km south. This resulted from changes in wind patterns rather than increased gas output.

1979 Eruption
Explosions and lava extrusion accompanied the last eruption of the volcano from 13-26 April 1979. Powerful explosions from Soufrière in April 1979 produced large ash clouds and pyroclastic avalanches, forcing the evacuation of more than 17,000 persons from the northern end of St. Vincent. The largest hot pyroclastic avalanche flowed down the Larikai River valley on 14 April 1979 and continued several kilometers out to sea for at least 10 km. The vulcanian phase of the eruption was caused by magma erupting through a water logged island in the cratrer lake.

A lava dome grew in the crater until late October 1979.

1902 Eruption
During May 1902 pyroclastic flows reached the sea both east and west of the crater.

Further reading
Heath, E., Macdonald, R., Belkin, H., Hawkesworth, C. and Sigurdsson, H., 1998. Magmagenesis at Soufriere Volcano, St Vincent, Lesser Antilles Arc. Journal of Petrology39(10), pp.1721-1764.

Brazier, S., Davis, A.N., Sigurdsson, H. and Sparks, R.S.J., 1982. Fall-out and deposition of volcanic ash during the 1979 explosive eruption of the Soufriere of St. Vincent. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research14(3-4), pp.335-359.

Shepherd, J.B., Aspinall, W.P., Rowley, K.C., Pereira, J., Sigurdsson, H., Fiske, R.S. and Tomblin, J.F., 1979. The eruption of Soufrière volcano, St Vincent April–June 1979. Nature282(5734), pp.24-28.

Lewis, J.F., 1973. Petrology of the ejected plutonic blocks of the Soufriere volcano, St. Vincent, West Indies. Journal of Petrology14(1), pp.81-112.

Soufrière St. Vincent Volcano Eruptions

2021, 1979, 1971-72, 1902-03, 1880, 1814, 1812, 1784, 1718.
1640 ± 50, 1550 ± 50, 1480 ± 150, 1395 ± 75, 1325 ± 75, 905 AD ± 75, 530 BC ± 75, 750 BC ± 100, 1600 BC ± 75, 2020 BC ± 75, 2135 BC ± 50, 2200 BC ± 150, 2310 BC ± 100, 2380 BC ± 100.