Piparo volcano still hissing gas—expert

Monday, December 9, 2019 - 09:15

Even though the Pi­paro mud vol­cano has be­come qui­eter, there are still vol­canic gas­es hiss­ing out of the fis­sures says se­nior geo­sci­en­tist, Xavier Moo­nan.

Moo­nan, who works with Touch­stone Ex­plo­ration, has been do­ing vol­un­tary work at the vol­cano along with his team from the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia, Moo­nan said, “The vol­cano has be­come a bit qui­eter in ac­tiv­i­ty so far but there is still gas hiss­ing out. This could in­di­cate that the fault move­ment back in Au­gust when the frac­tures de­vel­oped may have al­lowed a sig­nif­i­cant vol­ume of gas and wa­ter to es­cape but pos­si­bly not enough to al­low for a full-size erup­tion as we saw in 1997.”

Back in 1997, Moo­nan said, the “wa­ter and gas that es­caped ul­ti­mate­ly led to the desta­bil­i­sa­tion of the sur­face rocks and an in­ward col­lapse which in­sti­gat­ed the ma­jor erup­tion.”

He not­ed that UWI would be run­ning an­oth­er re­sis­tiv­i­ty or seis­mic to­mog­ra­phy sur­vey in late De­cem­ber or ear­ly Jan­u­ary to note any changes.

Mean­while, Re­gion­al Di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Dis­as­ter Pre­pared­ness Er­ic Mack­ie said the ODPM was in the process of fi­nal­is­ing the Emer­gency Re­sponse Con­tin­gency Plan.

He said pos­si­bly by next month, four sirens would be placed in the area to give res­i­dents an ear­ly warn­ing sig­nal in the event of an erup­tion. He said res­i­dents had been ad­vised to keep away from the down­wind ar­eas once an erup­tion oc­cured.

Teams from the ODPM have walked through­out the re­gion search­ing for the best pos­si­ble es­cape routes. An evac­u­a­tion plan is al­ready in place and all res­i­dents have been ad­vised to keep a “get ready to go” bag.

On Sat­ur­day dur­ing a 3D com­mu­ni­ty table­top ex­er­cise held at the Pi­paro Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tre, Mack­ie and his team, which in­clud­ed ODPM’s Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer An­war Baksh, ODPM’s Re­gion­al Co­or­di­na­tor Navin­dra Per­sad and oth­ers were able to dis­cuss evac­u­a­tion pro­ce­dures and emer­gency re­sponse plans with res­i­dents.

Res­i­dents called on the Min­is­ter of Works Ro­han Sinanan to re­pair all the roads lead­ing in and out of the vil­lage as well as to com­plete re­pairs to Ho­sei­nee Bridge.

Res­i­dent Jain­up Mo­hammed said, “We were promised 20 tonnes of hot mix to fix the road and noth­ing was ever giv­en. We are wor­ried that in the event of an erup­tion we will be un­able to get out through these bad roads.”

Baksh said it was okay to take cov­er in safe ar­eas with­in the com­mu­ni­ty that had es­caped mud­flows and gas emis­sions.

The ODPM said it would fi­nalise the Emer­gency Con­tin­gency Plan and meet again with res­i­dents as well as the 11 mem­bers of the Com­mu­ni­ty Emer­gency Re­sponse Team.

 - Radhica De Silva