• Question: Have you ever travelled to the caribbean to do research or studying? Have any of you been to soufriere hills volcano on monserrat? my mom comes from st. lucia and I love visiting the dormant volcano in the south of the island when I visit!

    Asked by mimi317 to Davie, James P, James V, Nuala on 4 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: James Verdon

      James Verdon answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      Hi mimi,
      I’ve been to the Caribbean on holiday, to the BVIs.

      Our group at Bristol is heavily involved in the Monserrat Volcano Observatory. Unfortunately though, I’ve never been out to Monserrat. Many of my friends and colleagues, however, have spent time out there, and I’m very jealous of them because it must be really fun and interesting, plus I bet the weather is pretty nice. I have helped to work on some of the data they brought back. I’d love to get to go, but I think it’ll be a while before I do.

      The volcanoes form because the Caribbean is above a subduction zone. The Atlantic Ocean plate is being forced under the Caribbean plate. As it is forced down into the mantle, the plate starts to melt. This creates the magma which rises to create all of the Caribbean volcanoes.

    • Photo: Nuala Carson

      Nuala Carson answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      Hey mimi317,

      No i dont get to go anywhere near as exciting and nice as the caribbean! Its very expensive to send scientist to different parts of the world so we dont really get to go that often!

    • Photo: James Pope

      James Pope answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      Hi mimi317,

      I went to Jamaica in 2007 for a 2 week fieldtrip as part of my undergraduate degree. We were based at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, which is part of the University of the West Indies. For the first week we studied a coral reef there, measuring it’s growth and species numbers to get an idea of it’s health. We also measured water chemistry as coral reefs like low nutrient waters (waters that have less food for plants in it) as it works better for them over other species. Finally we used a machine called a CTD (Current, Temperature Depth) profiler to understand the structure of the water from surface to bottom. This work involved working in a chemistry lab (which looked out over the beautiful waters of the Carribbean Sea), working on a small boat and snorkling on the coral reef.

      We determined that due to high nutrient concentrations in the water, there was strong competition from algae on the coral reef and so the coral reef was struggling to recover from damage sustained in a Hurricane about 15 years before.

      We then headed in land for the second week, investigating where nutrients were entering the Jamaican rivers to see if we could find the sources of pollution that were impacting on the coral reef. This required us to hike around the hills in the river basins that fed the waters around the reef and measure the size, volume and speed of the rivers and take water samples to look at in the lab for their nutrients. We found that it was a combination of all the small rivers feeding nutrients into the big rivers, these nutrients were mainly coming from farming.

      We had a great 2 weeks, it was very hard, but a tremendous experience and if I could go back I would, a beautiful place, a wonderful people, just glorious!

    • Photo: Davie Galloway

      Davie Galloway answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      hi mimi37,

      Hi lucky260,

      I was part of the seismic analysis team for the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) in 1996 studying the Soufriere Hills volcano that dominated the island. Basically my job was to look at all the earthquakes that were happening throughout the region both natural earthquakes which happen on a regular basis and at the earthquakes/seismicity that was happening due to the volcano. If the number of earthquakes started increrasing very rapidly then it was our job to put in the procedures to evacuate those living close to the volcano to a safe distance. The earthquakes iā€™m referring to are caused by the magma rising within the volcano. It was also my job to write daily reports about the state of the volcano, to make sure all our instruments were working and also to give interviews to the many reporters and media people on the island in order to keep the local population safe and informed.

      When I was there I visited St Lucia and a few of the other islands and i found them all beautiful places and the people very warm and friendly … loved my time in the Caribbean. šŸ™‚