MVO Statement on the Status of Activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano

It has been brought to the attention of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory that some members of the public have expressed concern regarding the current state of the Soufriere Hills Volcano following an advisory notice that was issued from the Washington VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Center – the agency responsible for providing ash advisory notices for civil aviation). On 19 November 2019 (12:19 UTC, 09:19 local) the Washington VAAC issued an initial advisory for Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat stating a possible emission.

Subsequent to this initial advisory a further notification was sent (13:38 UTC; 09:28 local) by the VAAC confirming that the emission that had been observed on the satellite imagery had no indication that ash was present, the observation was a plume of gas and steam. At the time MVO had a clear view of the volcano and confirmed that there was no ash observed. On occasion it can be difficult to distinguish emissions on the satellite images and the VAAC issues cautionary advice until the presence of ash can be confirmed or refuted. Based on current monitoring data, there have been no significant changes in recent activity. There has been no change in the Hazard Level or change in access to Zone V.

The Hazard Level is currently at Level 1, and has been since 1 August 2014 when the current Hazard Level System was released. A brochure describing the Hazard Level System can be downloaded from the MVO website at http://www.mvo.ms/pub/Hazard_Level_System/HLS-20140801.pdf. Under Hazard Level 1, access to Plymouth is controlled by the DMCA, RMPS and MVO.

There remains no public access to Zone V, including Plymouth. Persons wishing to operate official tours and sand barge operations in Zone V are required to seek permission from the DMCA and follow all agreed procedures.

MVO stresses that the public should not be concerned by the advisory notice that was issued by the VAAC. MVO continues to monitor the activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano 24 hours a day. Should any significant changes in activity occur, MVO will inform the local authorities and the public will be notified via ZJB Radio Montserrat and social media.

This report along with additional information on the Soufriere Hills Volcano and the Hazard Level System can be found at the MVO website: www.mvo.ms. You can also follow @mvoms on both Facebook and Twitter.

Victoria Miller, Acting Director MVO

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