What Happened During the Montserrat Volcano Eruption?


Quick Answer

According to a BBHS case study time line of the eruption, the first earthquakes began to occur in Montserrat in 1992. The volcano erupted in 1995 after being dormant for 500 years. The volcano continued to erupt into 1996 more violently causing increased damage. Finally, in 1997 large eruptions collapsed the dome causing pyroclastic flows, also known as lava flows, which damaged much of the island.

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Full Answer

Montserrat sits on a destructive plate boundary. When the plates merge, the oceanic plate is forced down under the continental plate. As this plate is forced down, pressure builds and triggers earthquakes. The friction between the plates produces heat which melts the crust forming molten magma. When the hot magma breaks through to the surface, a volcano is formed.

According to the BBHS case study, the volcano's eruption had a lasting impact on the island. More than 66% of the island was blanketed in ash, causing mass re-location and floods as valleys were blocked by ash. The capital city of Plymouth was abandoned when more than half of the residents were moved into makeshift shelters in the northern part of the island. Public services were halted as many of the island's schools and hospitals were closed. Transportation was severely impacted as the airport and port were closed. Farmland was rendered useless and forests were burned to the ground.

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