Explosion dynamics from strainmeter and microbarometer observations, Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat: 2008–2009

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Abstract

[1] Vulcanian explosions with plumes to 12 km occurred at Soufrière Hills volcano (SHV) between July 2008 and January 2009. We report strainmeter and barometric data, featuring quasi-linear strain changes that correlate with explosive evacuation of the conduit at rates of ∼0.9−2 × 107 kg s−1. July and January explosion-generated strains were similar, ∼20 nanostrain at ∼5 km, and interpreted as contractions of a quasi-cylindrical conduit, with release of magmastatic pressure, and exsolution-generated overpressure of order 10 MPa. The 3 December 2008 event was distinctive with larger signals (∼140–200 nanostrain at 5–6 km) indicating that a rapid pressurization preceded and triggered the explosion. Modeling suggests a dike with ENE trend, implying that feeder dikes at SHV had diverse attitudes at different times during the eruption. All explosions were associated with acoustic pulses and remarkable atmospheric gravity waves.

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