Partial dome collapse has minimal effect

 BRADES, Montserrat  – There was only minimal ash fall in inhabited areas as a result of a partial dome collapse at the Soufriere Hills Volcano on Thursday afternoon says a statement from the National Disaster Preparedness and Response Advisory Committee (NDPRAC).

“The John A. Osborne Airport was temporarily closed because of the ash blowing to the Northeast and persons are encouraged to take the ferry if they have a delayed flight,” said NDPRAC spokesman Keith Dyett. “The hazard level remains at four.”

Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Dr. Paul Cole says the event lasted for 55 minutes and reached up to 40,000 ft. according to pilot reports.

The official report from the MVO says “A partial dome collapse event has occurred at Soufriere Hills Volcano on 11 February 2010. The event lasted 55 minutes. Pyroclastic flow activity increased at 12:35 hrs and the first peak began at 13:04 hrs, the event waned at 13:30 hrs.

“The largest pyroclastic flows moved to the northeast towards the old airport at Trants and moved across the sea. Pyroclastic surges traveling across the sea on the northeast flank were visible from Lookout village. Pyroclastic flows also moved down Tyers Ghaut and into the Belham Valley, reaching as far as Cork Hill. The ash column rose to at least 40,000 ft (from pilot reports) and is drifting northeast. Minimal ash fall has been reported in inhabited regions.”

“We were very fortunate that it occurred in the northeast side of the volcano and wind direction is in our favor,” explained the scientist. He further said that dome collapses normally go in one direction only and this is what happened today.

All government offices and business remained open throughout the event, although the eruption was clearly visible from the Northern safe zone of the island.