The St Vincent and the Grenadines government will consider a recommendation from the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) to lower the volcano alert from orange to yellow, less than three months after the last eruption at La Soufriere on April 22.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves read a letter to Parliament he had received from the SRC’s director, Erouscilla Joseph, indicating that with the restoration in capacity of the monitoring network and given the level of volcanic activity, consideration should be given to the lowering of the volcano alert level to yellow.
Yellow is level two of four, and means that the volcano is restless, seismicity and/or fumarolic activity are above the historical level at the volcano, or other unusual activity has been observed.
With a yellow alert, scientists are expected to bring the monitoring system to full capability and alert civil authorities.
In her letter, Joseph said that measures should be taken to minimise the risk to individuals and communities in the orange and red zone associated with the volcano in its current state of unrest.
These include but are not limited to risk to individuals vising the summit areas from possible phreatic explosions and hot steam venting from the crater of the volcano and risk to communities on the lower flanks of the volcano due to the impact of lahars on the river valleys.
Nonetheless, the volcanologist said that visits to the upper parts of the volcano, particularly to the summit should be minimised and limited only to essential workers. These visits should be carefully planned and coordinated with the Belmont observatory.
Prime Minister Gonsalves told legislators that he had also received a two-page document from the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), raising some practical issues.
“I wanted to draw attention to the house that the scientists are asking for us to give consideration to reducing the level from orange to yellow, but with a set of considerations to deal with whatever are the existing risks,” Gonsalves said.
The SRC director, in her letter, noted that seismic activity at the volcano has steadily declined since the last explosion on April 22.
The SRC said the average daily number of earthquakes being recorded decreased from 354 up to April 22 to 13 up to May 22, and 24 during the following month.
The alert level was lowered to Orange on May 6 and since then, the pattern of declining activity has been maintained.