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Geological and Environmental Implications

The Caribbean island arc system consists of more than 7000 islands which are located in the Caribbean oceanic plate. Montserrat Island is one among the famous island of this arch. Montserrat island stretch covers an area of 102square kilometers. The area in which this island is located is frequently affected by volcanic eruptions.

This island had an estimated population of 10,500 before 1995 and as of now the population has risen to 25,000 though its growth has been interrupted from time to by the volcanic activities that occur in this island Montserrat island is composed of soufriere hill that are volcanic in nature and they thy stretch for about 2. 5 kilometers north south and 4km east –west . these hills are separated by the renown white river to the west and to the northern side by the tributaries of Dry Ghaut. There is a strip of fault zone that has been identified as scarp and it runs from North West to South East region of Roche’s Bluff.

This line of weakness goes through directly below Soufriere hills. To the south of this fault is there is s strip of topographic lows that are about 800m wide and can be differentiated by Ghaut in the East. Experts in their various studies have suggested that this fault strip could have been the cause of uplifting that happened in St. Georges Hills and Roche’s Bluff. There is also evidence that this zone was the epicenter of the current earthquakes as such this is one of the areas where volcanic activity can occur.

The effects of eruption on the shape of this island has been formation of various land forms like pumice deposits, mudflow deposits, ash flows, palean domes, scarps ,bluffs and hills. Currently there has been no significant activity that has taken place in the island. The only activities that taking place are ash venting which is associated with the constant weathering that is ever taking place at the vents,phroclastic flows t the Tar River and some phreatic eruptions. When volcanic eruptions occur there is normally a lot of disturbance to the environment.

The term environment by definition refers to the sum total of the physical, biological, social and economic conditions that surround both the living and non living things. In this regard eruptions have negative impact nearly to every aspect of life. In summary the effects are: • Education is disrupted since the schools’ infrastructures are damaged and at the same time the students suffer from trauma that affect there concentration in class work. • In the healthcare sector is overstretched in terms of all resources due to huge expanses that are required for treatment of the casualties.

• On the agricultural sector, crop production is reduced as result of destruction of the crops in the farms. • Shelter becomes very scarce since the houses are destroyed as well as the building materials. The houses that are spared become weak and can collapse any time causing further damage. • Water becomes unavailable since the water supply systems are damaged . moreover the water quality is lowered since there is mixing of domestic water with the sewage discharges. • The economy sinks due to interruption of the production systems

• Finally pollution is increased as a result of dust, heat and greenhouse gases that are released during the eruptions. A sketch cross section of Caribbean islands arc area The highest peak represents the Montserrat Island. To the left the arrow shows the direction of movement and subduction for the North Atlantic Plates while right arrow indicates the direction of movement and subduction of Caribbean and Cocos plates Reference Hanson, R. (1990). The Geology of Caribbean Islands Arc: oxford University Press

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