As St Vincent and the Grenadines moves deeper into the hurricane season, lahars and mudflows continue to remain a great concern following the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
Lead scientist monitoring volcano, Llyod Lynch speaking on the ‘Eyeing La Soufriere’ says the weekend was busy in terms of secondary hazards at La Soufriere.
While seismicity continues to show a declining trend, it was a busy weekend for lahars, with 11 lahar signals being recorded on both the east and west sides of the volcano.
Lynch says a two-man team is on the ground with the primary focus on bolstering the monitoring network. Emphasis is being placed on preparing the monitoring equipment, with Lynch mentioning that on Saturday an attempt was made to travel out to Richmond but the team got stuck in the mud and had to abort.
He notes as SVG moves deeper into the hurricane season heavy rainfall can trigger more lahars.
A lahar warning system would be ideal but such a system requires a lot of planning and investment, with Lynch noting he is unable to state when this could be actioned.
He explains that it is not just a matter of putting out a few instruments on the slope of the volcano. This alone will not cut it.
Lynch says such a warning system needs monitoring components which include cameras, acoustic flow monitors and weather stations.
It will also need communication components to get alerts out and a hazard component where one does some sort of assessment of the risk which involves mapping of the volcanic deposits.
Consultations will also have to be done with the Met Office on average precipitation and with water resources on the capacity of the valleys. Then there is the issue of preparedness where the population at risk is informed about the threats, the actual warning system and what the alert means.
The lead scientist says it is a complexed system and for it to be effective it will require all the people working on the various components to work in concert for it to pull together.