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The eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (1995–1999): overview of scientific results

R. S. J. Sparks
R. S. J. Sparks
Department of Earth Sciences, Bristol University, Bristol, BS8 1RJ, UK (
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S. R. Young
S. R. Young
Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Mongo Hill, Montserrat, West Indies
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January 01, 2002


The eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (1995–1999) has displayed a wide range of volcanic phenomena: growth of an andesitic lava dome, generation of pyroclastic flows by lava dome collapse and by fountain collapse in explosive eruptions, Vulcanian and sub-Plinian explosivity with accompanying tephra fall, entrance of pyroclastic flows into the sea, sector collapse with formation of a debris avalanche and a high-velocity pyroclastic density current, and generation of lahars. New phenomena include: cyclic patterns of ground deformation linked with shallow seismicity and eruptive activity; pyroclastic flows formed by rapid sedimentation from pyroclastic surges; and an unprecedented slow escalation of eruption intensity. Magma pulsations with timescales of hours to years have been recognized. Transitions from extrusive to explosive activity were triggered by major dome collapses. Relationships between magma ascent dynamics and geophysical signals have been elucidated. Ascending water-rich andesitic magma becomes Theologically stiffened by degassing and groundmass crystallization. Large magma overpressures are consequently developed in the upper conduit, causing shallow seismicity, radial patterns of ground deformation, and cyclic pulsations of eruptive activity. Lava dome growth involved heterogeneous deformation with formation of spines and lobes along shear zones. Collapse of the pressurized dome resulted in substantial pyroclastic surges forming above pyroclastic flows. Influx of hydrous mafic magma remobilized hot crystalline igneous rocks at depths of 5 to 6 km to form crystal-rich andesitic magma and triggered the eruption.

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Geological Society, London, Memoirs

The Eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 1995 to 1999

T. H. Druitt
T. H. Druitt
Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France
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B. P. Kokelaar
B. P. Kokelaar
University of Liverpool, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2002




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