USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington
West Indies Volcanoes
- Caribbean and West Indies
- Mont Pelée
- Soufriere Guadeloupe
- Soufriere Hills (Montserrat)
- Soufriere St. Vincent
The Caribbean and West Indies
Volcanoes of the Caribbean and West Indies
Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program Website, 2003, from Simkin and Siebert, 1994
Of the broad region known as the West Indies, only the Lesser Antilles,
an arc of small islands formed by subduction of
oceanic crust moving westward from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,
are volcanically active. ...
The northern islands were discovered by Columbus on his second voyage, in 1493,
and other islands on his third in 1498, but
they were passed over by settlers preferring the Greater Antilles to the west.
It was not until the 1630s and the sugar trade
that Europeans started to settle in the islands.
On Saba they chose grassy flatlands that were apparently the newly vegetated
tops of very recent valley-filling pyroclastic-flow deposits.
And on Martinique settlers noticed that
Mont Pelée was
suspiciously bare of vegetation.
The first historical eruption, though, was on
Guadeloupe around 1690.
Ownership of islands shifted among the French, British, and Dutch,
with Carib indians showing fierce resistance to
colonization on some islands. Several islands retain formal
ties to Europe, whereas others have achieved independence in
recent decades. Monitoring of the volcanoes is by the
Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies, principally
by seismic data telemetered to their base in Trinidad,
and by French observatories in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Location of Kick-'em-Jenny
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program Kick-'em-Jenny Website,
Kick 'Em Jenny Submarine Volcano
Location: Lesser Antilles, West Indies
Latitude: 12.30 North
Longitude: 61.63 West
Height: -160 meters (-525 feet)
Kick-'em-Jenny, an actively growing
8 kilometers (5 miles) off the north shore of Grenada,
rises 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) from the sea
floor. Its summit has grown from 235 meters (770 feet) below
the sea surface in 1962 to 160 meters (525 feet)
twenty years later. Numerous historical
eruptions, mostly documented by acoustic signals,
have occurred since 1939, when an eruption cloud rose 275 meters (900 feet)
above the sea surface. Other known eruptions occurred in
1943, 1953, 1965, 1966, 1972, and 1974. The eruptions of 1939 and
1974 ejected eruption columns above the sea surface.
Tilling, 1985, Volcanoes: USGS General Interest Publication
Mount Pelée in Martinique, West Indies,
Lassen Peak and
in California are examples of
An extremely destructive eruption accompanied the growth of a
dome at Mount Pelée in 1902.
The coastal town of St. Pierre, about 4 miles downslope to the
south, was demolished and nearly 30,000 inhabitants were killed by an
ash flow and associated hot gases and volcanic dust.
Only two men survived; one because he was in a poorly ventilated, dungeon-like
jail cell and the other who somehow made his way safely through the burning city.
Mount Pelée Menu
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program, 2003
Soufriere Guadeloupe Volcano
Location: Guadelopue, West Indies
Latitude: 16.05 N
Longitude: 61.67 W
Height: 1,467 meters
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program Website,
La Soufrière de la Guadeloupe volcano occupies the southern end of Basse-Terre,
the western half of the butterfly-shaped
island of Guadeloupe. Construction of the Grand Découverte
volcano about 0.2 million years ago (Ma) was followed by
about 0.1 Ma,
and then by construction of the Carmichael volcano within the
caldera. Two episodes of edifice collapse and associated
formed the Carmichael and Amic craters
about 11,500 and 3,100 years ago, respectively. The
la Soufriere volcano subsequently grew within the
Amic crater. The summit consists of a flat-topped
and several other domes occur on the southern flanks. Most historical
eruptions have originated from NW-SE-trending fissure
systems that cut across the summit and upper flanks. A relatively
minor phreatic eruption in 1976-77 caused severe economic
disruption when the island's capital city, which lies immediately
below the volcano, was evacuated.
Soufriere Hills (Monserrat)
Map, Soufriere Hills Volcano and Montserrat Island, West Indies, 1997
Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program Website, 1998
Soufriere Hills Volcano
Location: Montserrat Island
Latitude: 16.72 N
Longitude: 62.18 W
Height: 915 meters (3,010 feet)
Current eruption began July 18, 1995, and continues
-- (written August, 1997)
Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program Website, 1998
Soufriere Hills volcano sits on the north flank of the older
South Soufriere Hills volcano, located at the south
end of Montserrat Island (13 x 8 kilometers). The
summit area consists primarily of a series of ESE-trending
Block-and-ash flow and surge units associated with dome growth predominate
in flank deposits. Pyroclastic-flow deposits associated with the formation
of English's Crater have been dated at around 19,000 years BP (before
present). A series of eruptions dated at 16,000-24,000 years BP pre-dates
the Castle Peak dome in the crater by an unknown period of time.
English's Crater is breached to the east.
Periods of increased seismicity below
Soufriere Hills were reported in 1897-98, 1933-37, and again in 1966-67.
There were no reported historical eruptions, but some deposits and features
have a young appearance. A radiocarbon date of ~320 ± 54 years BP from a
northeast-flank pyroclastic-flow deposit is significantly younger than other
radiocarbon dates from the volcano, and could have resulted from the latest
activity of Castle Peak.
Soufriere Hills (Montserrat) Menu
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program, 2000
Soufriere St. Vincent Volcano
Location: St. Vincent, West Indies
Latitude: 13.33 N
Longitude: 61.18 W
Height: 1,178 meters
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program Website,
Soufriere St. Vincent is the northernmost and youngest volcano on St. Vincent Island.
The 1.6-kilometer-wide summit crater, whose northeast rim is cut by a crater formed in 1812, lies on
the southwest margin of the 2.2-kilometer-wide Somma crater, which is breached widely to the
southwest as a result of slope failure. It has a history of violent eruptions, including those in
1718, 1812, and 1902, when 1,600 people were killed only hours before the
disastrous Pelée eruption
165 kilometers to the north. A
was emplaced in the summit crater in 1971, forming an island in
a lake that filled the crater prior
to an eruption in 1979. The lake was then largely ejected and
the dome was replaced with another.
[West Indies Volcanoes and Volcanics Menu] ...
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01/13/03, Lyn Topinka