Mt. Pelee in Martinique. Landslides, dome sinking, heavy sludge flows – experts say it’s not a result of volcanic activity but with all the seismic activity in the region dem days, tsunami warning and all, a collapsing dome could trigger something on an island with a history of volcanic activity that sits on an active fault line –  analysis BY Roger Burney

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The National Emergency Management Organization would like to clarify that the Whatsapp images being circulated from the island of Martinique are not pyroclastic flows, but rather rapid flowing volcanic mudslide of rock debris and water known as “lahar” which occurred in the river Prêcheur on Monday, January 08, 2018 at about 9:00 p.m.

The mudflows are due to recent heavy rains on the island. The river Prêcheur is to the north of the island of Martinique and located between Mount Pelée and the extinct Mont Conil volcanoes.

The island has experienced occurrences of lahar in previous years; and a more recent occurrence was on June 19, 2010, where twenty houses near the Prêcheur river had been impacted without causing loss of life.

Pyroclastic flows, on the other hand, are a fast-moving current of hot gas and volcanic matter made up of a high-density mix of hot lava blocks, pumice, ash and volcanic gas. They move at very high speed down volcanic slopes, typically following valleys.

The state service in Martinique (The Volcanic and Seismological Observatory of Martinique) has set up an active intelligence unit to monitor the development of the phenomenon.

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