Eruptions, Eruption Precursors and Related Phenomena in the Lesser Antilles
Brief revised descriptions are given of all volcanoes in the Lesser Antilles which are believed to have a potential for future eruptions. Accounts of all historic eruptions have been examined with a particular view to identifying phenomena precursory to eruptions. All eruptions which have occurred in historic time and which are sufficiently well described for conclusions to be drawn have been preceded by precursory phenomena lasting for periods ranging from a few days to 14 years. The main precursory phenomena have been swarms of local earthquakes, increased fumarolic activity and ground deformation. Other possible precursory phenomena such as changes in fumarolic gas chemistry, and gravity and magnetic changes have not been observed, perhaps because measurements in sufficient detail have rarely been made. The usefulness of these precursory phenomena in predicting eruption onsets is reduced by the fact that false alarms outnumber genuine precursory sequences by a factor of two or three to one.
Regional tectonic earthquakes of magnitude greater than about 6.0 which occur at shallow depth close to the volcanoes of the northern Lesser Antilles generally have a significant effect on volcanic earthquake swarms, but none of the swarms so affected has ended in an eruption. There is no evidence for eruption periodicity either at individual volcanoes or in the arc as a whole.
KeywordsDepression Steam Explosive Smoke Subduction
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