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when did the Chances Peak volcano in the Soufriere Hills area erupt?

July 1995 - this covered Plymouth in more than 19 meters of mud and ash.

June 1997 - eruption with extensive pyroclastic flows which killed 19 people.


where is Montserrat? what kind of landform is it a part of?

Montserrat is in the British West Indies, and forms a part of an Island Arc.


how many people were killed?



what was the eruption a surprise?

the volcano had been dormant for almost 300 years and was even believed to be extinct.


how do island arcs form?

Island arcs form when two oceanic plates collide, the denser plates subduct and a deep ocean trench is formed. Benioff Zone melting forms submarine volcanoes which can create island arc chains


which plate boundary can Montserrat be found at?

where the South American Tectonic Plate subducts below the Caribbean Tectonic Plate.


what are the characteristics of the volcanoes found on Montserrat?

they are mainly composite volcanoes built up as a result of repeated, violent eruptions.

Lava domes have built up from viscous lava build-up and will collapse under gravity when they become too heavy, inducting destructive pyroclastic flows.


what were the social impacts of the eruption?

- two thirds of houses were either buried or flattened by rocks and ash

- the 2015 population is less than half than that of 1995.

- The Capital, Plymouth, was abandoned and a new capital area is being built up around Little Bay. Government functions have moved to Brades.

19 people were killed

- An already top heavy population structure has become even more imbalanced as many young people have migrated away from the island in search of better economic prospects.


what were the environmental impacts of the eruption?

- pyroclastic flows changed the topography of the landscape which made it very difficult to predict the path of further eruptions.



how has the environment recovered?

-vegetation is slowly growing back as the ash, lava and lahar deposits break down.

- fertile soils mean that the land will again be used for cash crops such as cotton


what were the economic impacts of the eruption?

-- An already top heavy population structure has become even more imbalanced as many young people have migrated away from the island in search of better economic prospects.

- the islands airport was completely destroyed, as were ports. Farmland, vegetation and three quarters of other infrastructure was destroyed.



how has the economy recovered?

the volcano itself has become an attraction - a new airport, hotel and dive shop have been built as the island looks to become a centre for adventure tourism.


political impacts

As the Island is British Overseas Territory many people, especially the young, were given an opportunity to move to the United Kingdom after full residence rights were granted in 1998 and citizenship in 2002.


what was the local response?

- some people resisted the initial evacuation but eventually all people were persuaded to abandon the South Side of the Island.


what was the national response?

In April 1996, the entire population was forced to leave the capital, Plymouth.

Exclusions zones were set up and visits severely restricted.


what was the international response?

- Citizens were given full residence rights to seek a new life in the United Kingdom.

- Infrastructure was rebuild over the next three years and development of the new capital continues to the day....£420 million has been awarded in aid by the UK government to date.

- more than half the population of the islands were evacuated to Antigua, the USA and the UK.

- Royal Navy and US Navy personnel arrived to assist in the immediate response.


what mitigation has there been since 1995?

- The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) was set up after the 1995 eruption and successfully predicted the 1997 eruption.

- Two thirds of the island remains an exclusion zone and warning sirens are tested daily at 12pm.

-Predication and hazard mapping can be difficult because each eruption changes the topography of the land.

- A programme of public awareness and education has been undertaken by the MVO.