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Earthquakes shake the Caribbean. The possibility of a new volcanic eruption

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A series of earthquakes rocked the Caribbean today, with each center marked with an orange or red dot mark. The red star indicates the spot where a new eruption may occur in the coming days or weeks. Photo: USGS

A series of earthquakes rocked the Caribbean today and scientists are concerned about the possibility of another volcanic eruption in the Lesser Antilles on the island of Martinique.

17 earthquakes hit the Caribbean today, mostly around western and southern Puerto Rico. The strongest earthquake in the region struck this morning, 75 miles north of the valley in Anguilla. It was measured in 4.1. Hit 4.0 in the same general area just hours ago. On the northern coast of Venezuela, a 5.0-magnitude earthquake struck early today. None of these earthquakes were strong enough to generate a tsunami in the Caribbean, and there is no risk of a tsunami in the Bahamas or the eastern coast of the United States at this time.

However, scientists are concerned that a swarm of earthquakes on the island of Martinique may be a sign that Mount Pele may be preparing to erupt soon. Seismic and volcanic activity on the French island in the Caribbean is monitored by the Institut Physique de Globe de Paris and Observatoire volcanologique et sismologique de Martinique. According to this observatory, between June 4 and June 11 at least 16 tectonic-volcanic earthquakes were recorded; It was located within the volcanic edifice between sea level and above sea level. While these earthquakes were not felt by the islanders, they are of the type associated with the formation of microfractures in the volcanic edifice. The observatory stated, “During phases of volcanic reactivation, periods of high seismic activity often alternate with phases of low seismic activity. Seismic activity remains above the baseline level.”

An explosive eruption occurred earlier this year at La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent. Photo: University of the West Indies Earthquake Research Center

Scientists there also reported that vegetation appears brown and dead along the southwest side of Mount Bailey, which could be an indication of volcanic heat and/or lethal gases emanating from within the ground around the volcano.

Mount Pele is an active volcano at the northern tip of Martinique and is located in the volcanic arc of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Mount Bailey means “the bald mountain” or “the peeled mountain”; It last erupted in 1932. When the stratovolcano erupted in 1902, it devastated the nearby town of Saint-Pierre, killing about 30,000 people there within minutes. This volcanic eruption became known as the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century.

Due to ongoing disturbances at the volcano, the Martinique Volcano Observatory (NVO) has raised the Volcano Alert Level from green/normal to yellow/alarm.

If Mount Pele erupts, it will be the second volcano to do so this year in the Caribbean. In April, an explosive eruption occurred in Saint Vincent at the La Soufriere volcano there. Saint Vincent is located south of Martinique. While covering the islands with thick ash, the eruption of Saint Vincent also released a plume of toxic gases circulating around the globe.

It’s too soon to know if a new eruption on Mount Pelee will have impacts on the environment, weather and climate outside the Caribbean.

Data captured by Earth observation satellites can help visualize sulfur dioxide emissions from an erupting volcano in the Caribbean as it travels around the world. Photo: Adam/Earth Observation Meteorological and Environmental Platform

If Mount Bailey erupted, it would join more than twenty other volcanoes currently erupting around the world. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), there are about 1,500 potentially active volcanoes worldwide, with 500 out of 1,500 erupting in historical times.

Most of the world’s volcanoes are located around the “Ring of Fire” around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The Ring of Fire is an area around the edge of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. Due to the movement of tectonic plates, the lithosphere plates under and around the Pacific Ocean move, collide and/or destroy, resulting in the seismic activity for which the Ring of Fire is famous.

While many volcanoes erupt around the Ring of Fire, volcanoes can also erupt in the Caribbean. Of the 19 active volcanoes in the area, 17 are located on 11 islands, and two more are currently underwater near Grenada. The most active volcano in the Eastern Caribbean prior to the explosive April eruption was Soufriere Hills in Montserrat. Soufriere Hills devastated the capital of Plymouth and killed 19 people when it erupted in 1997. This volcano has been erupting since 1995.

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