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