By Rawlston Pompey
Man has been described as a ‘…perpetually wanting animal’ [Douglas McGregor: 1963]. This bears true. Apart from greed, that which is necessary for survival and/or sustaining life, pleasure, fun and frolic, man is very likely to engage or do the unthinkable. Undeniably, man is good natured. Behaviorally, man in his expressions and/or utterances, is as callous and reckless as with his actions, he is disobedient and adventurous. Invariably, man has often been seen as endeavoring to defy ‘Nature and Logic.’ In spite of foreseeable, and the inevitability of consequences, the nature of man speaks not only of inquisitiveness and adventurism, but also often exhibits a resolve to conquer ‘Man and Nature.’
This commentary looks at the ‘Nature of man’ and ‘Behavior of Nature.’ Thus, when Geologists and Volcanologists assessed volcanic developments or likely eruptions, given their unique fields of endeavor, nationals shall be thankfully grateful their expertise and services. Moreover, they shall be guided by their ‘Scientific Conclusions and Advisories.’ As it relates to hurricanes though man has been apportioned some degree of blame for ‘Global Warming,’ this element remains unconquerable.’ And with this natural underground phenomenon, man can neither be blamed for provoking nature’s elements into a destructive mode. This can never be said, neither of; (i) ‘…Earthquakes, nor (iii) …Volcanoes?’
GRUMBLE AND TUMBLE
Research has shown some ‘Eleven (11) Volcanoes,’ scattered across the region [Wikipedia]. Whether by ‘Creation or Evolution,’ Scientists know that these underground elements were neither intended for a stable environment or to live with man. They also know that when they start to emit smoke and ‘Grumbles;’ (a) ‘…Some place; (b) …Some things; and (iii) …Some people,’ are all about to ‘Tumble.’ Thus, any activity or any scientific warnings shall be taken as ‘ALERTS’ to be prepared for their wrath. The recent event in ‘Indonesia’ [January 15, 2021] is evidence of these truths.
This featured article speaks not of scientific knowledge of the currency of activities in them. That resides within the province of; (i) ‘…Geologists; and (ii) …Volcanologists.’ Respecting the ‘La Soufriere Volcano, current activities at its Crater have caused the positioning of Scientists to observe ‘Oozing Magma’ and growing second dome.’ Though this brought comfort certain communities, there is still good reasons for cautious optimism. For in its present state of effusion,’ it allows the Scientists’ to look into, and observe its Crater activities and better positioned them to reach reasonable scientific conclusions, and accordingly, guide those that are to be so officially guided.
PLACE OF INTEREST
Though it has been known for its fiery and destructive emissions, there is no ‘Devil’ at the ‘Crater Lake.’ In spite of past and current activities, in a state of dormancy, it has been considered a ‘Place of Interest.’ The La Soufriere Volcano,’ had been long considered a ‘Place of Interest.’ Whether in actuality or perceived, the thoughts of the excursionist were never pre-occupied with fear or danger. Even so, it is certainly not a place for the ‘easily fatigued or fearful, or panic-stricken.’ Why people shall pay very close attention? Before a major eruption, it provides Scientists with a window of opportunity to monitor its activities,’ but leaves communities to ponder, and ‘Geologists and Volcanologists’ to anticipate or guess just what it might do next.
Respecting volcanic activities, research has shown that the ‘La Soufriere Volcano’ has erupted five (5) times. These were documented from; (i) ‘…1718; (ii) …1812; (iii) …1902/3 (May 7, 1902 to March 1903; (iv) …1971; and (v) …1979′ [Wikipedia]. Though these eruptions reflect no increased frequency, the devastation may or may not have been alarming, while casualties may also have been frighteningly staggering. There may have been serious omissions with collating and documenting any such data, even of mere academic importance. Though those would have been long past, it would provide reminders of that which is hidden beneath the earth’s surface. Still, on the surface, nature’s ‘Wonders and Mysteries,’ in a state of dormancy, a volcano might be safely explored. This appears encouraging.
WHAT NATURE ALLOWS
Though it was never considered a haven of rest and peaceful habitat, prior to its eruption , in its dormant years, the ‘La Soufriere Volcano’ allowed nationals and tourists for either; (i) …Excursions on public holidays; (ii) …Hiking; or (iii) …Exploration.’ Thus, it allowed; (a) ‘…The adventurous to climb its steep summit; and (b) …the Curious to explore its surroundings and to take in its breathtaking view.’ There is still further interest for human sustenance and survival. Its rich fertile volcanic soil allows the ultra-brave to engage in farming agricultural produce, including cultivation of that which the law prohibits.
SMOKING AND GLOWING
For those not so disposed to live within its vicinage or adventurously-inclined or possess the capacity or agility to climb mountainous terrain, it allows the monotonous a day to commune with nature by picnicking at the foot of its summit and to breathe with comfort and ease, the unpolluted mountain breeze. Situationally, and for now, that has changed. There has been a protruding and growing dome. As magma oozes, it smokes and glows. Where these are seen, and particularly where it glows, know that there is fire. There shall be no illusions that where this element is seen, food was always cooking.
This may have been just what ‘Geologist and Volcanologist, Professor Richard Robertson’ saying to ‘Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.’ Situationally briefing the nation on his expertise and ‘Scientific Observations’ of; (a) ‘…Actively oozing Magma; and (b) …An emerging second Dome,’ in a light moment with a ‘chuckling tease’ he said; ‘St. Vincent get away from Çovid, but I am not sure you are dodging the volcano, unfortunately’ [CNW: December 30, 2020]. The Volcanologist, spoke not only from an ‘anticipatory position,’ but also from visible evidence of a growing Dome. He has seen its gradual protrusion alongside an in the waterless Crater.
As the ‘La Soufriere Volcano [St. Vincent and the Grenadines], has come to the attention of the nation, the persons who speaks with ‘Scientific Authority’ are the distinguished ‘ Geologist and Volcanologist, Professor Richard Robertson and his Team of Scientists.’ They are well-positioned to monitor activities at the volcano. Thus, have the capacity to understand and to provide timely ‘Advisories’ to those that need to know. Though Scientists are not necessarily scaremongers, none may harbor illusions of what is likely to be ‘coughed up,’ and descend upon the landscape and surrounding communities. Situationally, however, the goodly Professor may have been gravely mistaken about ‘Getting away from Çovid’ and its infectious nature and unstoppable spread across the globe.
As regards an explosive eruption, it appears there is virtually no opportunity for escape. Though apparently there may be no imminence of explosion, now conscious of such possibility, residents in high-risk areas are more afraid of evil men, than of harboring fear of its smoking ‘Oozing Magma’ and destructive power. In its state of dormancy, there have been numerous planned excursions to its location. These were more for enjoyment of nature by taking in the breathtaking view from its summit. Additionally, excursionists were more fascinated by the picturesque scenery of lush green vegetation leading from the foot of the volcano to, and from its summit. Visually, it remains one of nature’s spectacles, yet mysteriously held beneath its Crater one of earth’s terror.
DANGEROUS AND DESTRUCTIVE
Located high on the northern mountain range is the universally known ‘La Soufriere Volcano.’ Though humans have been constantly ‘flirting with danger,’ it has always been the elements of nature that decide how long such flirtation may last. At an elevation of some ‘4, 048 feet,’ near to ‘Somma Ridge and Mt. Brisbane’ [St. Vincent and the Grenadines], nature has given the ‘La Soufriere Volcano’ a majestic height. In a state of non-activity, it rests in dormancy. Whenever it was nature’s time, it poured out its wrath on surrounding landscape, grazing animals, tethered or untethered and humans. That is time it is most ‘Dangerous and Destructive.’
PENDING OR IMPENDING
In an imaginary line from ‘Georgetown [East] to Richmond [West],’ these communities appear not to be safely far or out of reach the volcano’s descending wrath and fury. On the Leeward side the communities of; ‘…Richmond and Chateaubelair; Wallibou; …Troumaca; …Ballen and Petit Bordell; …Fitzhughes and Rose Bank and Rose Hall,’ that in ‘an Explosive Eruption’ may not see the sun, nor the moon. Yet in the face of perennial danger, of earlier volcanic activities, all co-existed, and still co-exist. Except for ash fall, inner communities, such as ‘…Park Hill, Fire Burn and South Rivers; …Sansouci and Diamond Villages; …New Grounds; and Union, Chapmans and Lowmans’ appeared not to have been zoned for the volcano’s pending or impending wrath.
CLOSE PROXIMITY COMMUNITIES
Before erupting [1971 &1979], the ‘La Soufriere Volcano’ was not known for any serious or major volcanic activities. Nationals then saw it as a place for an excursion and a day to be spent with nature. Thus, people from across mainland St. Vincent had organized excursions, particularly on certain public holidays. Moreover, residents in the immediate and surrounding communities, including; ‘…Fancy and Owia; …Sandy Bay and Magum; …Overland and Orange Hill; …Chile and Dickson; …Langley Park and Caratal; …Mount Bentick and Georgetown,’ harbored no fear of it. These are in the color-coded Zone ‘Orange.’ These are located in its vicinage for its destructive wrath. Marginally safe from the Volcano’s wrath are the communities; ‘…Mount Young and Congo Valley; …Chester Cottage and Byera Hill: Mangrove and Gorse; ‘Colonarie-hometown,’ and Belle Vue and Mt. Grennan.’ These communities are in the color-coded Zone-Yellow.
Conscious of its ‘Explosive Power,’ residents know that they shall take evasive action to escape its wrath. Residents in its destructive path had quickly propelled themselves into evacuative motion. Perplexed farmers and bewildered housewives, including mothers with infants in arms, found no time, neither to kneel nor stand to pray. The eruption, not only saw emitted fiery material flowing down the rim of the Crater with rapidity, but also inflicted irreparable damage upon everything in its path. Further testament of a volcano’s power has been the ‘Montserrat Soufriere Hills Volcano.’ The entire ‘City of Plymouth,’ burned by pyroclastic flow was lost, while approximately half the island was left ghost-like, desolate and inhabitable [Wikipedia: July 18, 1995].
GOD AND NATURE
In the 1979 ‘Explosive Eruption,’ hapless and frightened, with eyes transfixed to the sky overlooking the ‘La Soufriere Volcano’ [April 13, 1979], nationals wondered what they had done to ‘God and Nature.’ The turn of events may have been seen as a ‘Sign of the Time.’ Notwithstanding the darkness that had descended, ‘God’ was not going to come like a ‘Thief in the Day.’ From a biblical perspective, this might not necessarily be believed. The Scripture edifies, that ‘God’ has delivered a ‘Fiery Judgment’ upon two notoriously ‘Sinful Cities-Sodom and Gomorrah’ [Genesis: 18: 20]. There exists a little of that today, but ‘God’ appears unlikely to use ‘volcanic activities’ to address ‘His’ concerns. Though it brings no comfort, people shall still see such eruptions as natural phenomenon.
CO-EXISTENCE AND COOPERATION
Every element of nature poses danger. Actively, the wrath descended often reeks havoc on people, their; (a) ‘…Joy and happiness; (b) …Health and wellness; and (c) …Peace of mind.’ These are not only irrefutable truths, but also often inescapable. Humans shall not seek to ‘Flirt with Nature.’ They shall understand that there are, but two fundamentals; (i) …Co-existence and Cooperation.’ This is particularly so with Volcanoes, whether in a state of dormancy or actively effusive. In the event of a possible volcanic eruption, people have both an advantage and disadvantage. For instance, with the advent of technology, it not only provide; ‘…An opportunity to move to a safe Zone; and (b) …Rely upon the professional expert advice of the Geologists/ Volcanologists.’
FEARFUL AND CONFUSED
In the northern surrounding communities, ‘Fearful and Confused,’ and believing that the end had come upon them. Hurriedly, they sprang into self-evacuation and likened to slaves running from the cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of their ‘Owners and Masters,’ they all ran from the hazard-prone and zoned communities, under destructive terror of the La Soufriere Volcano. Today, Science and technology have been guiding the knowledge and skills development of Scientists. They are well-positioned to warn people of ‘subterranean seismic activities.’ This is usually evident by volcanic emissions and formations. Case on point is a new ‘Dome’ that has emerged in the ‘Waterless La Soufriere Crater.’ Scientists have contrasted the previously observed activities in a then ‘Water-filled Crater [1971-1972.’
KEY WORDS: EFFUSIVE – EXPLOSIVE
In view of all that have been said and will further be said about the ‘La Soufriere Volcano,’ residents shall pay close attention to two ‘Key Words’ the Scientists have made their ‘Watch Words.’ These words are; (i) ‘…Effusive; and (ii) …Explosive.’ They are not necessarily words of wisdom or ‘Stars of Wonder. ‘Every citizen shall seek to have commonality of understanding of what either word scientifically means. Misinterpretation, misunderstanding, defiance and/or complacency’ can lead to the inevitability of consequences. Therefore, in the event of increased seismic activity in the Crater, citizens will also be prepared for short notice-evacuation.’ Thus, when scientist, the trusted Geologist/Volcanologist Professor Richard Robertson provides ‘Situational Updates’ to the nation, know that the scientifically well-informed will be better positioned to guide people to safety.
DANGER AND DISASTER
As far as ‘Danger and Disaster’ are concerned, empirical evidence has shown the intensity and destructiveness of hurricanes and devastation caused by earthquakes explosive volcanoes. Though not necessarily the most dangerous element, volcanoes, wherever they are located, are natural unconquerable forces to humans. If it were so, those in the fields of ‘Geology and Volcanology’ may never have to study what goes on beneath the earth’s surface or in the Craters of volcanoes. Though there has been constant battle over land and space, man is forced to co-exist with the elements of nature. Even so nature has always been victorious. Therefore, wherever humans commune, be it in a city, country or field, likened to the motorist approaching a Round-a-Bout, man must yield to nature.
In a major ‘Explosive’ eruption, everything beneath its surface is discharged. For the adventurous, however, in a state of dormancy, some scientists assert that a volcano poses no terror as it is unlikely to cause immediate explosive horror. This may have been confirmed by ‘Geologist/Volcanologist, Professor Richard Robertson’ when he made revelations of volcanic activity within the La Soufriere Volcano as early as ‘November 2020: December 16 & 23’ [Nation News: January 14, 2021]. As has often been seen from graphic imagery [National Geographic], some of nature’s dangers lie under its ‘Water-filled or Dome-filled Volcano Craters.’ The La Soufriere is no exception.
TAKE A LOOK
Notwithstanding, the need for self-preservation, to see and be marveled or mystified by the ‘Dangerous Wonders of Nature,’ man shall be adventurous and courageous. Yet to avoid danger, risky adventures and dangerous situations, man must keep out of harm’s way. This has never been the nature of; (a) ‘…the Adventurous and curious; and (b) …Professionals. These are short listed as; (i) ‘…Mountain Climbers; (ii) …Skiers; (iii) …Geologists; and (iv) …Volcanologists.’ Either for adventure or scientific purposes, they shall all ‘Take A Look.’ Thus, to take a look, man shall make careful risk assessment. Thus, to know where they are located, man shall climb to conquer; while to reach the summit man shall persist and persevere.
FOOLS RUSH IN
When legendary singer ‘Brook Benton’ sang; ‘Fools Rush In,’ it is reasonable to assume that many people may have reflected on utterances they have made or places they have ventured. Listening to the lyrical content of this song, many also would have been guilty of either, making inappropriate, callous or reckless comments. By his comment, the ‘…Dome needs to grow faster’ [ANR: January 6, 2021], the artist may very well have been singing to social media visitor ‘Victor Salopi.’ On reflections on the adventurous climb to the summit of the La Soufriere Volcano, the artist may also have been singing to three ‘Boyhood Buddies‘-Vernon Nedd and Hamilton Pope (both deceased) and Rawlston Pompey.’
SPIRIT OF ADVENTURISM
With low visibility, when these ‘Boyhood Buddies’ summitted and attempted a ‘Dangerous Descent’ into the Crater of the ‘La Soufriere Volcano,’ they were ‘Treading where Angels Fear.’ Such may not be said of ‘Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.’ As good as a bicycle-rider he may have been, the ‘Spirit of Adventurism’ appeared not to have strived with him. Now that the word ‘Infectious’ is being used for a particular virus, back then Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves may have been fearful of contracting ‘Volcanoitis.’ For a light moment, he may remind himself of the days of thy youth. In a failed adventure, we both went over while attempting a rather dangerous downhill ride. A ‘brakeless bicycle tumble’ left us unscathed in one field of Arrowroot and Banana in another’ [Diamond Village]. Had ‘Brook Benton’ made a song of this adventurous ride, the title may very well have been; ‘Fools Ride Where Angels Fear.’
Until it became active and eruptive some forty (41) years ago, nationals and tourists often visited the ‘La Soufriere and Crater Lake’ and environs. When it eventually erupted on ‘April 13, 1979,’ it became inaccessible. Except for the Scientists, it speaks to one of nature’s inexplicit ‘Underground Mysteries.’ Thus, whenever it became active, residents in its immediate environs were given reasons to harbor eruptive fear. This was due to its ever poised position to cause just more than the earth to shake or ash to be airborne. Secretly concealed beneath its dormant ‘Crater,’ are volcanic rocks and fumigating sulphuric gases. Scientists and people know that when there is a major eruption that as ash spirals spectacularly skyward, lava turned into pyroclastic material flows destructively downward to land and sea.
VOLCANIC MONITORING STATIONS
In recent times, modern Scientists, aided by technology, are better-positioned to guide actions necessary to preserve life. Current activity speaks to a geologically-confirmed fact. Foreseeing that at some time in the future, the Volcano would likely to become uneasily active, the Scientists strategically placed ‘Volcanic Monitoring Stations’ in the immediate environs. Well out of harm’s way, one such Station was established on the periphery of ‘Capital Kingstown.’ Such facilitates their scientific work. Others were stations established include; (a) ‘…Seismic Stations; (b) …Global Positioning System (GPS) Station; and (c) …Dry Tilt Station.’ Few residents may have understood the scientific importance and use of these items.
The installations, vital to crucial data transmission to the headquartered ‘Seismic Center for scientific analyses’ [Port-of-Spain], also came under ‘Kleptomaniac Attack.’ Likened to humans with the ever propensity to commit crime reportedly lifted; (i) ‘…Three Solar panels; (ii) …Two Chargers; and (iii) …A GPS Antenna’ [UWI: Seismic Center; POS]. These items were reportedly installed at one of the ‘Monitoring Stations’ located at ‘Somma Ridge or Mount Brisbane’ [March 31, 2011]. Not necessarily being overly facetious, but it may have been reasonably assumed that the ‘sticky-fingered pilferers’ intended to be the first to know whether to run from a possible ‘Explosive’ eruption or to remain in an ‘Effusive’ eruption to monitor activities in the domed Crater.
After some forty (41) years of dormancy, danger not only seems to be lurking at the ‘La Soufriere Volcano,’ but also imminent. In the current situation, reflecting on the ‘Eruption of 1979,’ this may now place both Scientists and residents in two states of mind. (i) ‘…Scientists seem cautiously optimistic that the activities will be confined to the Crater’; while (ii) …Residents have found it unnerving’, if not unsettling that the activities have potential to be “Explosively Eruptive”. Thus, to residents there is every likelihood that the ‘La Soufriere may spew upon its environs that which has been causing it to ooze into a second dome. Even with such possibilities, humans appeared to have harbored little fear of the volcano’s eruptive wrath.’
The eruptions of the ‘La Soufriere Volcano’ in yesteryears had caused people and Governments to be better positioned to be prepared for the ‘Wrath of Nature.’ Advanced preparations saw demarcated Zones colored in; (i) ‘…Red; (ii) …Orange; and (iii) …Yellow,‘ they simply ran out of harm’s way. The safe zone has been color-coded ‘Green.’ Scientific and technological aid, now provide some time for people to take evasive and/or evacuative actions. Local authorities are said to be in anticipatory and ‘Responsive Mode.’ Hence, there is contemplation of immediate evacuation of identified ‘High Risk’ and other low-rated zonal communities.’
SMOKING OOZING GLOWING
When Geologist/Volcanologist Professor Richard Robertson informed that ‘Magma’ was exuding from beneath the Crater and expected to ‘Glow’ [IWN], know that there was a likelihood of a high intensity fire in Crater’s new forming Dome. Consequent upon this development, his monitoring movement has been reduced to hovering helicopter surveillance of the Volcano’ [IWN: January 6, 2021]. An explosive eruption often reveals that which was boiling or bubbling beneath the Crater. Such eruption could see rising ash, emission of gases and molten rocks overflowing its rim. Now, with some measure of relief he advised that the ‘Oozing Magma’ remains confined to the ‘Crater.’ None may deny that in spite of danger, it has the nature of man to do these things. ‘Smoking, oozing and glowing, know that volcanoes send only one message-Eruption.
The Scientists speak to that which humans, out of necessity have been discharging into the atmosphere, or caused to be so discharged, causing ‘Global Warming’ or changing climatic conditions. Thus, humans have been apportioned blamed for inter alia; (a) ‘…Rising temperature; (b) …Thermal warming and rising seas; (c) …Melting Ice-shelves; (d) …Floods; (e) …Deadly mudslides; and (f) …Uncontrollable fires.’ Instructively, that which Scientists have stopped short of apportioning blame to humans for is causing the Sun to shine mercilessly upon the earth. In spite of these phenomena, none may attempt to, or even apportion blame to humans for; (i) ‘…Violent, earth-shattering and destructive Quakes; and (ii) …Explosive and devastating volcanic eruptions.’
That which might be said without contradiction, is that though humans have been drilling the earth for rare mineral-rich deposits, they do not cause it to violently quake. Even as they have been excavating the underground to build waterways, tunnels and to lay pipes and cables, still none may finger humans for the frequently descended wrath of nature. That which calls for human understanding and appreciation, is that nature always has complete ‘Control of the Environment.’ Thus, it has not only controls itself, but also everything in existence within its domain. To be continued with: ‘An adventurous Climb- frightening and scary cloud cover … ***