On Monday, 30th May 2005, the Seismic Research Unit in collaboration with the Soufriere Monitoring launched the Volcanic Hazard Atlas of the Lesser Antilles, the first of its kind in the world. This comprehensive reference text on volcanism in the Lesser Antilles provides an up-to-date summary of the current understanding of the evolution of West Indian volcanoes. It is pertinent to a broad audience ranging from island residents wanting to learn about nearby volcanoes to volcanologists from other regions interested in these impressive volcanoes.
The primary purpose of the Atlas is to provide an essential blueprint for planners and public officials with responsibility for managing the economic infrastructure of Eastern Caribbean islands and dealing with the hazards of Lesser Antilles volcanoes. It was created at the request of public officials in planning departments and those responsible for disaster preparedness at the time of a 2001 USAID-funded workshop on Volcanic and Seismic Hazards in the Eastern Caribbean organised by the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies. The public officials and volcanologists attending the workshop recognised the value of a comprehensive summary of the volcanic histories and attendant hazards of these active volcanoes, and the project was subsequently endorsed by the International Association for Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, the premier volcanological organisation in the world.
Each of a dozen chapters summarises the volcanic history of an island or, in the case of Kick ‘em Jenny, a submarine volcanic centre. Past activity, including historical and radiometrically-dated eruptions is summarised, along with notable seismic swarms and the location and characteristics of geothermal areas. Discussion of hazards from specific volcanic processes, such as pyroclastic flows and surges associated with lava dome growth, are used to generate a colour-coded hazard map for each volcano. These data are then synthesized to provide an Integrated Volcanic Hazard Zone map showing areas of low to very high hazard. A bibliography provides a resource that includes citations for difficult to obtain unpublished reports, some of which were commissioned by regional governmental officials and only recently made available to the scientific community outside the West Indies. The colour used throughout the Atlas, including graphics, photos of the island’s volcanoes and their deposits, and location and hazard maps, provides a visually appealing summary of the volcanology of the Lesser Antilles arc.
In addition to the detailed summaries of the volcanic history and hazards of individual islands, the Atlas includes a regional synthesis of volcanic setting, volcano monitoring and volcanic hazards and a glossary of scientific terms. An accompanying map pocket contains large poster-sized versions of the hazard maps for individual islands and a new geological map of Dominica.
This Atlas is available at the Soufriere Monitoring Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Richmond Hill, St.Vincent or it can be ordered directly from the Seismic Research Unit through its website www.uwiseismic.com