The red glow observed coming from La Soufriere is natural and residents are advised to remain calm.
Professor Richard Robertson gave this reassurance on NBC Radio late Saturday night after residents of North Leeward reported seeing what appeared to be fire coming from the volcano.
“This is natural because the volcano has been erupting and has been erupting hot material which has created a mountain of very hot material. The material is between 500 and 600 degrees Celcius. These materials naturally give off a glow,” Robertson, of the UWI Seismic Research Centre said.
He explained that as the mountain of hot material in the crater gets bigger, people living on the western side of the volcano in areas like Chateaubelair will begin to see the incandescence or glowing of the dome at night.
This glow is however not visible during the day and had not previously been seen at night because it was below the rim of the crater.
Robertson explained that as the dome continues growing because of the effusive eruptions and gets closer to the surface, more of the glow coming from the dome will be seen. Eventually, when it is high enough, the dome itself will become visible.
“…This is natural and what is expected.”
“It is not erupting explosively,” Robertson reiterated and advised residents to continue doing what they have been doing all along.
The Vincentian scientist said the UWI-SRC has been monitoring the volcano and it is still doing what it has been doing for the last few weeks.
“It has not fundamentally changed, it is just that it has gotten bigger and bigger.”
On Saturday, the UWI-SRC on its Facebook page said, the new dome is roughly three-quarters the height of the 1979 dome and is growing more or less equally in both directions (east to west). The estimated size of the dome as at January 15, 2021 is 340m (l) x 160m (w) x 90m (h).
Professor Robertson advised residents to listen to the authorities and do what the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) says.
“If it goes to an explosive phase, you will hear it, you will see it; you will see different things than if it is simply growing and you will clearly know there is a need to take action. You will hear the NEMO and the authorities say that you need to evacuate.
“It has not got to that stage, hopefully it will not get to that stage in the near future. But it may, it is possible. But right now, all you are seeing is the dome glowing, and that is natural, and you should remain calm.
He advised that the glow from the volcano will become “more spectacular” and “brighter” as time goes on and if it progresses to an explosive eruption, it will look different.
NEMO in a release said no evacuation order had been issued.
“The team of scientists continue to monitor activities at the volcano and will advise NEMO accordingly of any changes.
“Please continue to listen to official sources: namely NEMO and the UWI Seismic Research Centre for all information relating to the La Soufrière volcano,” the release said.