St. Vincent Volcano Eruption Photos Show Colossal Plumes of Ash

A volcano in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines erupted explosively Friday morning.

The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC)—based in Trinidad & Tobago—said in a statement posted to Facebook that an explosive eruption began at the 3,864-foot-high La Soufrière volcano at 8:41 a.m. local time on April 9.

The UWI-SRC said that the explosive eruption was the culmination of a significant uptick in seismic activity that began on Thursday. The volcano is located on the island of Saint Vincent—the largest in the chain.

"The eruption is ongoing and more information will be shared as things progress," the UWI-SRC said.

Photos from the eruption show that has has begun to fall on the flanks of the volcano and surrounding communities, including Chateaubelair and Petite Bordel, according to UWI-SRC.

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The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also confirmed the eruption, noting that an ash plume up to 20,000 feet high had been detected heading east. The ash plume could even be seen in satellite images.

NEMO said that all persons in the red volcano hazard zone should evacuate immediately.

La Soufriѐre is the only "live"—meaning potentially active—volcano on the island of Saint Vincent. According to a UWI-SRC factsheet, an ongoing effusive eruption has been taking place at the volcano since December, 2020.

Effusive eruptions are those in which magma, or molten rock, gently oozes out of the ground, producing lava flows and lava domes.

Explosion éruptive sur le volcan de #LaSoufriere à Saint-Vincent aux #Antilles, bien visible du satellite GOES. Le sommet du panache est emporté par le flux de moyenne altitude. pic.twitter.com/th5HnRTNvG

— Keraunos (@KeraunosObs) April 9, 2021

But on Thursday, scientists observed a significant increase in activity at the volcano, leading the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to raise the volcanic alert level to "Red."

"Seismic activity at La Soufrière, St Vincent changed significantly today when the seismic station closest to the summit began recording low-level seismic tremors on April 8," a statement posted to Facebook by NEMO on Thursday said. "A tremor is a continuous seismic signal that is usually associated with the movement of magma to the surface."

La Soufriere from Bagga 😫 pic.twitter.com/cfYZ6MSofC

— 👑 Shea 👑 (@Mz_Collis) April 9, 2021

Scientists had not seen this kind of seismic activity since the ongoing effusive eruption began in December last year.

"The volcano has entered a heightened period of activity indicative of a fresh batch of magma either near to, or approaching the surface. The possibility for activity to move to an explosive phase has increased significantly. Given the current data it's not possible to say exactly what the time scale would be," the NEMO statement said.

In contrast to effusive eruptions, volcanoes undergoing explosive eruptions tend to spew out large plumes of ash, while also ejecting large pieces of rock.

La Soufrière volcano eruption
An image showing La Soufrière volcano, located on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, erupting explosively on April 9. UWISeismic Research/Twitter