Abstract

The largest and most intense lava-dome collapse during the eruption of Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat, 1995–2004, occurred 12–13 July 2003. The dome collapse involved around 200 × 106 m3 of material and was associated with a phenomenon previously unknown at this volcano. Large pyroclastic flows at the peak of the dome collapse interacted explosively with seawater at the mouth of the Tar River Valley and generated a hot, dry base surge that flowed 4 km inland and 300 m uphill. The surge was destructive to at least 25 m above the ground and it carbonized vegetation. The resulting two-layer deposits were as much as 0.9 m thick. Although the entire collapse lasted 18 h, the base surge greatly increased the land area affected by the dome collapse in a few minutes at the peak of the event, illustrating the complex nature of the interaction between pyroclastic flows and seawater.

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