Soufriere Hills Volcano

January 6,2015

Today there were a number of short bursts of rain followed by bright sunshine and huge banks of clouds scudding across the sun. During a sunny phase, we drove to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory which faces the Soufriere Hills Volcano. It was a winding single lane, supposedly double paved road, except for parts that were missing, which led us to the MVO. As there were six of us in a RAV 4, one took turns sitting in the ‘trunk’.

Soufriere Hills Volcano

Soufriere Hills Volcano

A helicopter landed beside the MVO as we arrived and took off with a crew ready to do work closer to the volcano. We watched a twenty minute video about the volcano erupting in 1995 and its activity since then, with the most recent eruption being in February 2010. Things have been slowly settling since then. It is estimated that there may be a forty percent chance of a further eruption.

Nineteen lives were lost in the aftermath of the volcano. Five thousand of Montserrat’s population relocated in the United Kingdom. The town of Plymouth will never be resurrected from the ashes. We drove to the slopes above Plymouth and walked around what used to be the fancy Montserrat Springs Hotel. We looked down on the remains of Plymouth. What stands out from the fray landscape are the bursts of fuchsia colour from Bougainvillea which have grown up beside abandoned houses and businesses.

Plymouth...what remains

Plymouth…what remains

We walked reverently around buildings on the slope and looked through binoculars at the valley town which is in the no entry zone. It is a sad sight. The business that has sprung from the refuse is the removal of sand for export…gray ash sand.

After returning to the Taj, lunch and a siesta, it was refreshing to plunge into the ocean for a long swim. Some even tried kayaking in an inflated rubber kayak. Some of those rolling big waves were tricky!


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