Environment

Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano awakens after 23 years, Trinidad and Tobago


A new volcanic activity is taking place at Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano in Trinidad and Tobago. The last eruption of this volcano took place in 1995, killing 1 person and leaving 31 families homeless.

The first set of eruptions started at approximately 22:00 UTC on February 12. Another eruption took place at 00:20 UTC on February 13, followed by another at 04:52 UTC.

The volcano ejected thick volcanic mud and covered a large area, causing cracks in the ground and damage to concrete footpaths around the volcano. At the time, mud is extending some 45 m (150 feet) in each direction of the crater.

The Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government said that the alert level for the site is currently at level 1 – the lowest on its disaster management scale – which means the volcano is in a state where it poses no immediate danger to human life and there is so far no indication, based on seismic and other tests, that a hazardous eruption is imminent.

Level 1 alert is bolstered by the fact that air quality tests conducted by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) at the New Grant site have so far returned normal results with only minimal traces of nitrogen dioxide detected, the ministry said. 

At approximately 10:00 local time today (06:00 UTC), Hindustan Road in New Grant was temporarily closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic except to people who live in the area. The police also put residents of some 25 homes with proximity to the mud volcano on notice should a full-scale evacuation become necessary.

In the event of an evacuation, the ministry and its partners at the regional corporation took a decision early today to activate and equip three shelters at the Hindustan Government Primary School, the Hindustan Presbyterian School and the Hindustan Community Centre, all of them well outside the ‘hot zone.’

Disaster Management Unit, police and fire officers are on the site and are urging people not to approach the volcano.

“I understand that people are anxious to view the volcanic eruptions. However, at this time, I strongly urge all residents and citizens to avoid going to the site and allow the emergency first responders and Seismic personnel to do their work in order to get this situation under control and prevent any incidents,” Acting Minister of Rural Development and Local Government said.

Devil’s Woodyard in Piparo is the country’s most famous mud volcano. Its last eruption took place in 1995 when thick mud buried 11 homes and 20 vehicles, triggering emergency response effort that lasted for weeks.

The area was declared a disaster area and some 300 residents were evacuated after the volcano ejected mud as high as 60 m (200 feet) into the air, killing some livestock, and knocking out the electricity and water supply. The eruption killed one person and left 31 families homeless.

The first known eruption of this volcano took place in 1852.

Featured image: Eruption of Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano on February 13, 2018. Image credit: CNC3



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