The National Disaster Preparedness and Response Advisory Committee (NDPRAC) met on 2nd January 2009 to review the level of volcanic activity since its last meeting on 22 December 2008 and, in particular, the implications for Zone B which includes Isles Bay, Waterworks, parts of Old Towne and Lower Happy Hill.
The MVO has observed a significant change in the pattern of activity. A regular cycle of strong volcanic pulses has become established resulting in larger and more energetic extrusion of magma. The number of pyroclastic flows on the north and North West side of the mountain has increased and is filling Tyre’s Ghaut. This has enabled flows to jump over the wall of the ghaut and reduces the distance to the Belham River Valley. The volume of extrusion has also increased. Lava accumulated around the dome is contributing to the increasing size of pyroclastic flows.
A second consequence of the higher energy levels is an increased possibility of the pre-existing dome being destabilized. Although the bulk of a dome collapse would fall into the Tar River Valley, the risk of a significant collapse into the Belham River had been increased by the changed focus and pattern of the eruption.
Taken together, the Director of the MVO (who had consulted with colleagues overseas) concluded that the MVO was no longer in a position to issue any practically useful warning during the hours of darkness or bad weather.
Having considered the Director’s report and studied recent photographic and video material NDPRAC decided to further restrict entry to Zone B to daytime only. The Governor will issue a proclamation on 2 January which will take effect from 18.00 that day. Zone B will be open from 06.30 to 17.30 daily, except on Wednesdays when it will remain closed.
Residents of Zone A who feel uncomfortable residing there overnight should consider making alternative arrangements with friends and families.
NDPRAC regrets the disruption this will cause to residents of Zone B and will continue to review levels of volcanic activity on a regular basis.
Affected residents and members of the public are invited to an open meeting to explain the decision at Salem Nursery School at 9 am on Saturday 3 January 2009..