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Abstract

On 11 February 2010, a partial dome collapse, the largest since 20 May 2006, occurred at Soufrière Hills Volcano (SHV), Montserrat. The collapse is also the largest generated on the northern flank of SHV since the eruption began in 1995. Approximately 50×106 m3 was removed from the dome, resulting in widespread pyroclastic density currents (PDCs). Mapping revealed a complex stratigraphy that varied widely across the northern and NE flanks, and reflected the complex evolution of the collapse. The deposits included a range of fine-grained ash-rich and pumice-rich units deposited by dilute PDCs, and several types of coarse-grained, blocky deposits from dense PDCs. Several previously unaffected areas, including Bugby Hole, Farm River Valley, the village of Harris and Trants, suffered significant damage to the natural and built environments. The collapse lasted 107 min but the bulk of the activity occurred in a 15 min period that included five of the six peaks in PDC generation and two Vulcanian explosions. Although powerful, the PDCs generated were not associated with a lateral blast. The likely cause was the piecemeal collapse of a series of large, unstable lobes that had been extruded on the northern flank of the pre-existing dome.

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