Dear Senor Jose Cruz
You asked me to find out about your volcano poco-poco. I am going to tell you where volcanoes occur and why they erupt in these places, the dangers of them and the dangers of them happening in Mount Isle, what happens when they erupt and the process of getting to the eruption, why volcanoes erupt in the Caribbean region, other examples of eruptions in the Caribbean region, how scientists can monitor and predict volcanic eruptions, why there has been little research on Poco-poco in the past and how the citizens of Iguana Cay could prepare for a possible eruptions and what they should do in the event of an eruption.
Volcanic eruptions occur only in certain places in the world and do not occur randomly. That’s because the Earth’s outermost shell is broken into a series of slabs known as tectonic plates. These plates are rigid, but they float on the hotter, softer layer in the Earth’s mantle. There are 16 major plates as you can see in the map. As the plates move about, they spread apart, collide, or slide past each other. Volcanoes occur when this movement occurs. As you can see the Caribbean is next to a plate boundary. This explains why eruptions happen in this area. There have been several eruptions in the Caribbean region such as Montserrat in 1995. St. Kitts has erupted 27 times and St. Eustatius last erupted 1,600 years before present. Future volcanic eruptions cannot be ignored.
There are various dangers of volcanic eruption they are grouped under to headings: Environmental and Human. We will start with environmental. The environmental dangers are climatic changes- rise in temperature- changes to the landscape- deposits of lava, covering fertile land and creating a rocky land covering, erosion of hill sides and mud slides. There would also be damage to the plants and animals and lastly pollution in the air making it hard to breathe. Now to what the dangers are to humans:
You would burn if came in contact with the lava, suffocation because of the smoke and reduction of oxygen, starvation as no food can be produced for sometime in affected areas, loss of housing and roads making transportation of food and equipment difficult, disease due to lack of water and blocked drains. These dangers would also be a major danger to Mount Isle. Iguana Cay is at particular risk as it is at the foot of the volcano. If the volcano were to spew lava in the direction of Iguana Cay, the city may be totally buried and destroyed resulting in major disruption to both local business and government and could cause the death of all inhabitants.
Poco-poco is a type of volcano known as composite or strato volcano when this volcano erupts, it sends tons of stream, ash and rocks into the air. Glowing clouds of gas, steam and rock blast out of this volcano. The thick clouds drop down onto the volcano and race down its sides. These clouds are very dangerous to people and anyone caught in the flow faces almost certain death. As magma bursts out of the top of the volcano, dust, gas, steam and hot rock shoot into the sky. Streams of magma called lava come to the surface and pour from the top of the volcano and down its sides.
Sometimes the eruption is so loud it sounds like an explosion from a large bomb. Hot magma cools as it rises to the top. Some of it becomes solid on the way up. The solid pieces are blasted out in the eruption. The smaller pieces about the size of marbles are known as volcanic ash and the larger ones are called volcanic bombs. Volcanic bombs can be as big as and as heavy as trucks.
There has been little research to date on Poco-poco as there are no current signs of activity and it is believed that Poco-poco is extinct. However, given to recent activity on nearby islands, it would be sensible to decide whether this is the case or whether the volcano is merely dormant. Scientists can monitor the warnings the volcano is giving off. They can do this by measuring the temperature of the crater and checking the gas around Poco-poco. They also have monitors that find out about the pressure building up inside the volcano. Any changes, which are on the same plate, would indicate signs of possible eruption.
to protect the citizens of Iguana Cay an eruption warning needs to be given if scientists discover and changes in the volcanoes core. Citizens need to be aware of this system and have an evacuation programme they could be moved to the opposite end of the island or they could stay where they are until it is certain that volcano is going to explode. In that case they would need to be ready to leave at short notice. If the volcano were to erupt then you would need transport to get everybody away from Poco-poco. The lava would need to be diverted towards the sea using specially constructed channels by doing this the lava will cool down and water particles will evaporate creating rain which will fall on the flowing lava and cool it down.
The government would need to address the following issues:
1. Employ scientists to measure volcanic activity. I would be happy to meet up with you and review Poco-poco with a view to setting up a research centre.
2. Design an emergency procedure in case of eruption to include
* Evacuation, rescue programmes, medical assistance, refugee facilities and a rebuilding programme.
I look forward to being able to help you in your planning
Caitlyn Lister Volcanologist