Friday, July 6, 2012

July 5, 2012: Today we went on our volcano taxi tour of the island. There are three volcanoes on the island of Montserrat. Tectonics has caused the plates to shift and push together to form these volcanoes. Silver Hills is an extinct volcano, Centre Hills is dormant, and Soufriere Hills is the youngest and is active. Montserrat sits on the boundary between the Caribbean plate and the Atlantic plate. These two plates are slowly moving together (or converging). As they move together the molten rock (magma) inside Earth is pushed upward, causing the volcano to erupt! Our tour guide, Winston, was great! I was able to go down into the area where the mudflow was. It was amazing! I'm planning to go back to bring some samples home with me (we had to get some ziplock bags first). I got some great pictures!  There was one house that was three stories high before the eruption. After the eruption the mud flow buried the house up to the third floor. Most of the other houses in the area are completely buried under the mud flow. I have a picture of another house that was on a bit of a hill, so it wasn't completely destroyed. We also got to go to the MVO (Montserrat Volcano Observatory). We watched a short video that was very informative. The volcano first erupted in 1995 and continued to erupt until 1997 where there was a very large eruption, engulfing the Capitol City, Plymouth! In 2005 (10 years after the eruption) it put on yet another show. Since then there have been no eruptions, but steam, gas, and smoke escape from time to time. Winston tried to take us into the exclusion zone, but the gate was locked and the guard was off duty. He promised to call the guard (a friend of his) so we could go back when it is open. We got to see the rest of the island and got a detailed history of the entire island. It sounds like the island was a bustling colony until the eruption. The town of Plymouth looked to be a very nice town. After the eruption, the volcano completely buried the town of Plymouth and other areas too with its deadly pyroclastic flow!There were 19 deaths from the volcano itself. The island went from a population of 12,500 to 3,000, due to the eruptions. Most of the people left because their jobs and homes were gone. The island seems to struggle now. There was a benefit concert in England to help rebuild some areas of the island. A lot of people lost everything in the eruption. It was very sad to hear the stories that Winston told us.

This is a picture of the mudflow. It killed everything in its path! These trees are still standing, but were killed by the mudflow!

A picture of the mudflow and the cause of it, Soufriere Hills Volcano (in the background...covered by clouds at the top).

Here is the 3 story house that was buried by the mudflow up to the 3rd story!

Our wonderful tour guide, Winston, and myself!

We have tornado sirens...Montserrat has volcano sirens!

Many houses in the area near or in the exclusion zone are for sale! I don't think I'll buy one in this area!

If you look closely, this is a conveyor belt that is moving the volcanic rock and ash up the mountain. From there it gets shipped to different locations on and off of the island. It will be used for building construction!

House on the hill....not completely destroyed or buried like those in the valley.

Same house as above, different angle. You can see that plants are starting to grow inside of it!

This was a seismograph!

Can you guess what this is? It is a frog that was petrified!

Soufriere Hills Volcano taken from the MVO (Montserrat Volcano Observatory). The "clouds" you see are made mainly of sulfur dioxide, coming from the volcano and mixing with the humid air and other gases. The scientists say that the volcano is fully visible only about 8 hours a month! The entire time we have been here there has been cloud cover!

The mudflow - taken from the MVO. You can see that the mudflow traveled from the volcano all the way through the valley and out into the sea!

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