Presentation on theme: "What have been the impacts of recent volcanic eruptions in Montserrat?"— Presentation transcript:
1What have been the impacts of recent volcanic eruptions in Montserrat? AIMS:Justify study of MontserratAssess the impacts of recent eruptionsAssess the likelihood for self-sufficiency and sustainable development on the islandDavid AlcockMay 2011
2Why study Montserrat?“[T]he epoch-making eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano in 1995… has affected almost every facet of life in this 39.5 square mile island. Agriculture, industry, land-form, land space and its use, demography, politics, culture and the totality of society have all undergone changes of revolutionary proportions” (Fergus, 2007: 9)NB Montserrat had already been hit by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and it had just got itself on its feet.Some people talked about potential self-sufficiency.
3Why study Montserrat? KS3 – Geog.1 GCSE – in all specifications A-level:ComplexChangingDevelopment – opportunity for discussionRecentSynopticityOften covered at KS3 (Geog.1 uses it well as a case study)Many teachers will also choose to cover it at GCSE (all specs include at least an option to teach about tectonic hazards)Worth covering this case study at A-level as it is (a.) complex(b.) constantly changing(c.) allows discussion within the framework of the development continuum: should Montserrat be seen as a ‘developing’ country, or should it occupy a separate category as it is a UK dependent territory?(d.) it is a ‘recent’ example – within the last thirty years (ref AQA).(e.) it offers plenty of opportunities for ‘Synopticity’ – e.g. it links in with migration topics, as the UK accepted hundreds of ‘environmental refugees’ in the late ’90s; and it links in with other topics such as energy, tourism, and ecosystems, as we’ll find out later. Indeed, the Montserratian diaspora in Manchester provided the basis for the AQA ‘Issues’ paper a few years ago.
4Phases of volcanic activity Phase 1: Summer 1995 to the start of 1998Plymouth evacuated. Exclusion zone created killedPhase 2: December 1999 to Summer 2003Phase 3: Summer 2003 to Spring 2007Phase 4: Summer 2008 to 3 January 2009Phase 5: 4 October 2009 to February 2010Largest pyroclastic flow yetThe next phase is more likely to be another short duration but high intensity event (SAC, 2010)Scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) have divided the volcanic activity into five phases interrupted by pauses:The main events which Geography students will be familiar with occurred in Phase 1. Following over three hundred years of inactivity, there were a few precursors of activity early in 1995, in that steam was seen rising from the vent, and mud pools increased in temperature.The first eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano started on 18 July 1995, and this initial eruption led to the evacuation of the capital, Plymouth, and the creation of an exclusion zone in the southern part of the island.On 25 June 1997 at about 1pm, a much larger eruption occurred. The dome of the volcano collapsed, sending 5 million cubic metres of hot rocks and gases down the side of the volcano. These ‘pyroclastic flows’ killed 19 people who returned to their farms in the exclusion zone, and they also created an area of new land as some debris was deposited off the coast.Phase 5 activity may not have hit headlines in the UK, but the largest pyroclastic flow yet indicates that the volcanic hazard remains strong and human impacts will be long-term. The next phase is more likely to be another short duration but high intensity event (SAC, 2010)
5Over a half of the island is currently off limits (Hazard Level is 3 out of 5) Red= essential workers only; Green= unrestricted accessGet maps from
6Social Impacts (1) Exodus Loss of economic potential; community split 1995: 10,000 residents; 1999: 3,000; 2006: 5,000Loss of economic potential; community splitBUT… employment opportunities influx, huge exodus following the destruction of the capital, Plymouth, and forced evacuation of many villages and farmland in the south.In this short time span, the island’s population decreased to about a third of its pre-eruption levels, from 10,000 to 3,000, rising to just over 5,000 by 2006.This ‘diaspora’ has settled in many countries, chief amongst them Antigua, the UK and the USA.These migrants joined a large group of people who had already left the island throughout the twentieth century, for example in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.The exodus in the late 1990s resulted in a loss of economic potential, because a disproportional number of the emigrants were from economically active age groups.Another impact of the eruption has been the arrival of over 1,500 people from other Caribbean islands who have been attracted by employment opportunities, chiefly in construction.
7Social Impacts (2) Some health effects – e.g. silicosis; psychological Since 19 people died in 1997, no further direct deaths. Low risk of death for most residentsBUT… mostly well controlledHealth effects.The main effects have beenthe exacerbation of respiratory diseasessilicosis (a kind of lung disease caused by christobalite, an element found in the ash)-post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologically, many Montserratians felt under threat in the months following the initial eruptions, and these tensions were heightened by the crowded life in evacuation centres.Since 19 people died in 1997, no further direct deaths. Nov 2010 SAC report estimated that in north of island, 1:4million risk of death from volcano, but 1:4000 for sand miners and geothermal prospectors.Howard Fergus says that most health effects have been well controlled.
8Social Impacts (3)Education – enrolment fell (1995: 2672; 1998: 620) and schools shutBUT… new secondary school, new college, new approachesEducationally, enrolment in all schools, from nursery to secondary, dropped from 2672 to 620 between 1995 and 1998.The two secondary schools were consolidated into one, but the school has had problems in retaining staff; most teachers come from other Caribbean islands, and 8 out of the 35 staff departed the school at the end of the 2009/10 academic year.A community college opened next door to the secondary school in 2005.New methods of teaching and learning have been introduced to the school and the college, to put the students on a better footing for the future.
9Economic Impacts (1) Agricultural land lost; farmers dispossessed Dependent on agricultural importsBUT… drive for self-sufficiency, and ash!The land adjacent to the volcano was some of the most fertile on the island; such land is now agriculturally useless and inaccessible, and 300 full-time farmers have been dispossessed by the eruptions.Montserrat, which used to be self-sufficient in many crops, is now dependent on imports for the vast majority of its foodstuffs. This is clear to see from a brief visit to any of the island’s food stores, and symptomatic of this import dependency is the fact that it can be difficult to buy limes on an island which was once famous for its lime crop (relaxing is still known as ‘liming’ on the island).There are seeds of hope, however: following a government campaign, many residents have turned towards growing some of their own crops, such as sweet potatoes and papaya, and the frequent ash falls have increased the fertility of the soil.
10Economic Impacts (2) Manufacturing industry lost BUT… opportunities in the primary sectorManufacturing industry was strong on the island until the first eruption: it hosted assembly-type businesses and food processing plants, dominated by Montserrat Rice Mills.Expansion of the ash processing and sand mining industry
11Sand mining and ash processing Source: Author, 2010
12Economic Impacts (3) Service industry suffered BUT… new capital city, cultural centreUntil the evacuation of Plymouth, the island also hosted an off-shore medical school, the American University of the Caribbean, which employed dozens of staff, and whose 400 students had been significant spenders in the local economy.Future plans to re-invigorate the island’s economy include the expansion of the ash processing industry and the construction of a new capital city in Little Bay (see final section).The music producer George Martin has already funded the recently completed Cultural Centre at a cost of nearly US$3 million to kick-start this development.
13Economic Impacts (4) Tourism shrank airport and seaport lostout-of-bounds areasvilla owners evacuatednegative travel advice givenferry service was suspended in 2005 (numbers had risen from 4,000 in 1997 to 15,000 in 2004, but then fell to 9,500 in 2005)BUT… tourism consultancy brought in, new capital city, ferry service may returnTourism was another big loser thanks to the eruption: the airport and seaport were in the exclusion zone, huge areas were declared out of bounds, and tourists were deterred by negative travel advice from their governments. In 2004 a £5 million grant from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) was secured: some of it was used for ‘capacity building’ (supporting hotel and villa construction), and part of it was spent on hiring a team of consultants from Scotland: ‘Team Tourism’. Their strategic plan for the island seeks to widen the number of target markets. - see two slides time - Now, new logo and a slogan which elliptically refers to the volcano as a possible attraction: ‘A Caribbean Treasure – Spectacular by Nature’.At the peak of the volcanic activity in 1997, the annual number of tourists was approximately 4,000. By 2004, a ferry linking Montserrat with Antigua, with two sailings a day had been established, and this ferry facilitated an influx of day visitors. The estimated number of tourists at this time was 15,000. When the subsidy stopped in 2005, the ferry service ceased, and by 2006, the numbers had shrunk to 9,500: Mrs Cassell states that “the capacity of the ferry and the small size of our airport severely restrict the number of visitors which come to the island… and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future”. Another drawback for potential ‘volcano tourists’ is that tours around the site of Plymouth (‘the new Pompeii’) have not taken place for several years thanks to continued volcanic activity.
14A disaster – and an opportunity? Another drawback for potential ‘volcano tourists’ is that tours around the site of Plymouth (‘the new Pompeii’) have not taken place for several years thanks to continued volcanic activity.But places like Belham Valley – see photo – are usually OK to visit.Source: Author, 2010
15Tourism target markets ‘Destination enjoyment’ holidaymakers (especially villa owners and renters)Markets inspired by the volcano (volcano tours and the education market)The dive marketThe bird watching marketThe cruise marketThe yachting marketThe market for day visits, short breaks and eventsSports tourism (football and cricket)The Montserrat diasporaSource: Team Tourism (2007)Newly weds and nearly deads?
16Economic Impacts (5) Energy – reliance on diesel Most renewable sources are unsuitable or poorly fundedBUT… geothermal opportunities at Delvins (see map)Energy is one of the most significant economic challenges which face the island. Today, the island relies upon one relatively inefficient high-speed diesel engine. The island’s Sustainable Development Programme has, however, identified renewable energy as a priority for the island. Some renewable options are, as Director of Montserrat’s Department of Energy, Peter White puts it, “definitely on the back-burner”; these include tidal, whose capital costs are high and whose prospects are low thanks to the low tidal range of the Caribbean Sea, and wave, which also suffers from a high capital cost. Wind energy, which was trialed in the early 1990s, and which contributed 400kWh at its peak, looks likely to mothballed for a longer period, partly because of a lack of suitable sites (the Centre Hills is due for designation as a National Park), and partly because the direction of the usually reliable ‘trade winds’ has seemingly shifted, meaning that orientating the turbines may be problematic.Wide-scale deployment of photovoltaic solar panels has a high capital cost, and there is insufficient space for a large-scale installation. Recent changes in the direction of prevailing winds on the island also mean that the northern part of the island has seen increasing ash falls, which can obscure the sunlight reaching the panels.Geothermal energy is the main focus of the department’s renewable energy strategy. A suitable aquifer, recharged by the sea and fresh water, has been found in Foxes Bay, in Zone C of the Exclusion Zone, between Richmond and Gages (see map). The planned capacity of this small plant is in the range of 2-5mW, therefore supplying all of the electricity for Montserrat at its current population size, and possibly allowing for Montserrat to be a net exporter of electricity. Funding is being sought from a variety of sources, but Peter White is struggling to obtain funding for the project. Current plans for the installation of a medium-speed diesel engine mean that Montserrat will still be open to the mercies of the open market in oil prices.
17Proposed location of geothermal power plant is in Zone C (controlled access) Red= essential workers only; Green= unrestricted accessGet maps from
18Environmental Impacts (1) AshBUT… long-term benefits?It should be acknowledged that environmental impacts overlap with physical impacts.On a regional scale, as mentioned in part 1 of this article, ash from the 11 February 2010 dome collapse reached several neighbouring islands, resulting in:- extensive disruption to air travel in the Eastern Caribbean region, andmillions of pounds worth of damage to banana and other cash crops on Guadeloupe alone.However, the ash has enriched the soil with iron, magnesium and potassium from the weathering of various minerals, such as olivine, pyroxene, amphibole, and feldspar which are found in volcanic ash.
19Environmental Impacts (2) Rainforest – approximately a third was destroyedAsh (again!)BUT…it’s natural!On Montserrat, the most obvious environmental effect has been the destruction of approximately a third of the island’s tropical rainforest and much of its wildlife. In addition, ash falls have thwarted vegetation growth in the short-term.BUT… a natural result of a natural hazard!
20Environmental Impacts (3) Feral pigs, goats, cattle and donkeys are dramatically increasing in numberDamaging native plants and animalsSpreading exotic speciesSoil erosionAgricultural damageWater pollutionAttacks on walkersBUT…research undertaken and possible solutions triedThe island’s forests support critically endangered endemic species including the Montserrat Oriole (a bird), Montserrat Galliwasp (a lizard) and Mountain Chicken (actually a frog!).Feral pigs and goats (together with smaller numbers of cattle and donkeys) originating from abandoned livestock in the Exclusion Zone are thought to be dramatically increasing in number in the Centre Hills. Such animals are damaging native plants and animals, including endemic species, and spreading of exotic species. They may also be leading to increased soil erosion, agricultural damage, pollution of water and attacks on walkers.Darwin Initiative project - fieldwork techniques to investigate the impact of such animals on the biodiversity of the Centre Hills region. These techniques include:monitoring a network of infra-red cameras (using food traps to attract animals)driving through the island to count loose livestocksurveying farmers.Possible solutions to the problem include controlled hunting, encouraging farmers to tie up feral animals, and laying traps.Source: Author, 2010
21Self-sufficiency and sustainable development 2008/9: annual aid budget from UK: £16.4m How much per resident (in 2006)?Some aid from EUSome parts of ‘Sustainable Development Plan ’ aim for a degree of self-sufficiency; some aspects have been deliveredConstruction of new capital city: Little BayIn 2008/09, Montserrat relied upon an annual aid budget of £16.4 million from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID, 2010), a figure equivalent to over £3000 per resident. It also receives a smaller amount of aid from other international organizations, for example the EU. The UK coalition government has committed to reprieve overseas aid from its programme of cuts.The island’s ‘Sustainable Development Plan ’, aims for a degree of self-sufficiency: By 2010, some aspects of the plan had already been delivered: these include :the completion of Phase 1 of the construction of the new capital at Little Bay in the north of the islandthe current push to invigorate tourism on the islanda campaign to try to encourage the 30,000-strong Montserratian diaspora to invest in the island and to consider returning to it.
22Little Bay – new capital by 2020? Get images from: (planners of Little Bay development) or
23...But the pace of change is slow: Get images from: (planners of Little Bay development)Main developments so far have been the roads and key infrastructure, George Martin’s cultural centre and a parade of shops
24Strategic Goals of the Montserrat Sustainable Development Plan, 2008-2020 Economic Management: An environment that fosters prudent economic management, sustained growth, a diversified economy and the generation of employment opportunitiesHuman Development: Enhanced human development and improved quality of life for all people on MontserratEnvironmental Management and Disaster Mitigation: Montserrat’s natural resources conserved within a system of environmentally sustainable development and appropriate strategies for disaster mitigationGovernance: An efficient, responsive and accountable system of governance and public servicePopulation: A sustainable populationSource: Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Government of Montserrat (no date)Strategic Goals of the Montserrat Sustainable Development Plan,- Economic Management: An environment that fosters prudent economic management, sustained growth, a diversified economy and the generation of employment opportunities- Human Development: Enhanced human development and improved quality of life for all people on Montserrat- Environmental Management and Disaster Mitigation: Montserrat’s natural resources conserved within a system of environmentally sustainable development and appropriate strategies for disaster mitigation- Governance: An efficient, responsive and accountable system of governance and public service- Population: A sustainable populationSource: Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Government of Montserrat (no date)
25Will Montserrat ‘rise from the ashes’? Initial shock has passedVolcano shows few signs of ceasing its activity soonImpact is profound and long-lastingDifficult journey to self-sufficiencyThe residents of this ‘little island’ have enough strength and perseverance to tame the powerfully destructive effects of their ‘big volcano’ – perhaps the biggest challenge will be an economic oneSo, will Montserrat ‘rise from the ashes’? Whilst researching for these articles, it has become evident that although the initial shock of volcanic activity on Montserrat has passed, the volcano shows few signs of ceasing its activity soon, and the impact of this activity is profound and will be extremely long-lasting. The journey to self-sufficiency will be slow and difficult. The residents of this ‘little island’ have enough strength and perseverance to tame the powerfully destructive effects of their ‘big volcano’ – perhaps the biggest challenge will be an economic one.
26AcknowledgementsDr Caroline Neuberg, Prof Jurgen Neuberg, Seismic Schools Initiative, the Royal Society, interviewees on the island2012 visit?Two key references:Contact me:This article was written following a field-trip to Montserrat with Dr Caroline Neuberg, Physics teacher at Fulneck School, Leeds, and three sixth form students at the school. The trip was made possible thanks to grants from the Seismic School Initiative (a seismometer was installed at the Secondary School) and the Royal Society. I am indebted to Professor Jurgen Neuberg from the University of Leeds for his help on the field trip and his comments on the text. Finally, I would like to thank all the interviewees mentioned above.Two key references:Geography Review magazine article later this yearMy address:Any questions?