Lithospheric Process & Hazards Essay On Soufrière Hills

1062 words - 4 pages

Lithospheric Processes & Hazards – Research ExcerciseSoufrière Hills MontserratThe Soufrière Hills is located in Montserrat isBritish overseas territory located in the LeewardIslands, part of the chain of islands called theLesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It measuresapproximately 16 km long and 11 km wide,giving 40 km of coastline. Montserrat is situatedin the northern part of the Lesser Antilles,which is a volcanic island arc formed alongthe junction where the Atlantic tectonicplate is subducted beneath the Caribbean plate.Nearly all the islands along the arc are the resultof subduction related volcanism. Most have (http://static.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/maps/wg-montserrat-2233-400x300.gif)andesitic stratovolcanoes, which have been produced by explosive eruptions, coupled with the growth of lava domes and associated pyroclastic flows, and the occasional extrusion of lava flows. Montserrat was given its name by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after its namesake located in Catalonia. Montserrat is often referred to as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, due both to its resemblance to coastal Ireland and to the Irish descent most of its early European settlers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montserrat).What caused the eruption?The Caribbean island of Montserrat is situated on a destructive plate boundary. A plate boundary occurs when two of the plates that make up the surface of the earth meet. Underneath Montserrat the Atlantic plate is slowly being forced under the Caribbean plate. This happens because the oceanic plate is denser than continental plate. Convection currents pull the dense Atlantic plate into the mantle where intense heat and friction cause the rock to melt. This molten rock is lighter than the surrounding rock, forcing it to rise through cracks in the in the rock towards the earth's surface.The Soufrière Hills Volcano produces thick sticky lava called andesite. The lava is so thick that it builds up at the top of the volcano in a dome until it becomes too heavy and the dome collapses. When the dome collapses hot rocks, gases and ash are released from the volcano causing the following hazards. Pyroclastic flows are extremely fast-moving flows of lava, hot rocks and gas that flow down the side of the volcano. Pyroclastic Surges are fast-moving clouds of hot ash that travel with the pyroclastic flow. Tiny pieces of volcanic ash are blasted into the air forming a plume of ash. As it cools down it falls back to the earth, covering vast areas with a layer of ash (http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/in/geog/envhaz/summary/flash_popup_vol_cause.shtml).The current eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano started on 18 July 1995 and is still continuing in 2003. Throughout this time, the volcano has experienced different stages of eruption from earthquake swarms to explosive eruptions. On 25 June 1997 at about 1 p.m. the Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted...

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