The 1971-72 eruption of La Soufriere St Vincent

How did patterns of unrest, eruption and governance impact the response to the 1971-72 eruption on St Vincent? 

In October 1971 La Soufriére St Vincent entered a period of unrest. Over the coming weeks, the volcano entered an eruptive phase with a lava dome growing in the crater (visible above the level of the crater lake). Scientists and politicians from the Caribbean, US and UK entered discussions about the potential hazards the eruption posed and what supplies were required to facilitate effective evacuation of at-risk populations should it become neccessary. 

1971 timeline.png

Timeline data from Barclay et al., (2022) and Aspinall et al., (1973)

Over the course of the eruption, the needs of the St Vincent government were well established and communicated, but delivery of vital supplies was delayed as a disaster "had not yet ocurred" according to UK government policy. Interactions between not only governments, but different groups of scientists and their instruments, impacted the trajectory of the volcanic hazard response. 

In this exhibit we use archive materials to explore three facets of the response to this eruption. 

The 1971-72 eruption of La Soufriere St Vincent