Lava dome extremely hot inside La Soufriere volcano

La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines. 
Photo credit: NEMOLa Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Photo credit: NEMO

Appeals continue to be made to members of the public in St Vincent and the Grenadines not to visit La Soufriere volcano.

Geologist with the UWI Seismic Research Centre, Professor Richard Robertson gave an update on the volcano during a video chat with UWI SRC yesterday evening.

The professor said temperature measurements indicate the lava dome is now above 600 degrees Celsius, which shows how hot the material is and how dangerous it is to go close to it.

Screengrab of aerial footage taken by NEMO of La Soufriere, St Vincent and the Grenadines.


Robertson said: “It looks like a black rock but it is extremely hot, and if you go close to it you could put yourself in harm’s way.” 

Only last week, a Vincentian climbed down into the crater where he took photographs standing close to the dome.

The geologist noted the presence of gases in the crater namely carbon dioxide, which could be extremely harmful. Robertson explained that if a person breathes in carbon dioxide, it occupies the lungs with less oxygen and more of a gas you cannot use.

Robertson said carbon dioxide is odorless and denser than the surrounding air: “It could put you to sleep and if exposed to it for too long can die from a lack oxygen.” 

He said this is why inside the crater is dangerous and being close to the areas where the gases are being emitted along the crater rim.

Professor Robertson also provided further information on what people should expect to see in the future.

He noted that as the dome gets bigger, pieces of hot rock will fall off and it could ignite and cause vegetation on the crater floor to burn, which could be seen at night.

As the dome gets closer to the surface, people on the western side will see a glow from the lower flanks. In the near future, it is possible people will see the mountain glowing but this will not be unusual.

People will also continue to see damage to vegetation and as the gas plume becomes more pronounced, the wind will take it persons will smell sulphur.

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