Table 26.1.

A brief chronology of the main events of the eruption that have impacted essential services and society. This includes events relevant to the topic and is not a full chronology of the eruption to date

DateEventImpact
17 September 1989Hurricane Hugo90% of island property was damaged (Kokelaar 2002; Young 2004)
18 July 1995Onset of Soufrière Hills eruptionPhreatic eruptions, stems jets and cold pyroclastic surges (Sparks & Young 2002)
3 April 1996Final evacuation of PlymouthBritish government offered a voluntary relocation package, but on the island the move was hoped to be temporary (Clay et al. 1999). Shelters were set up for evacuees, but only very basic health, shelter and social assistance was provided (Clay et al. 1999)
25 June 1997Sustained partial collapse of the lava domeFlows and surges travelled down Mosquito Ghaut and Paradise River valleys, and surges detached and travelled north (Loughlin et al. 2002b). Nineteen Montserratians were killed. This is known locally as ‘Black Wednesday’ (Brown 2010)
4 July 1997Mandatory Exclusion Zone area definedAbandonment of a microzonation approach to risk management and simplification of the risk maps (Kokelaar 2002)
August 1997Pyroclastic flows reach PlymouthPyroclastic flows destroyed much of the town. The permanence of the relocation became apparent and infrastructure investment accelerated (Clay et al. 1999). Shelters reached a peak population of 1598 (Kokelaar 2002). Evacuation of Salem, Friths and Old Towne ordered on 15 August 1997 (Clay et al. 1999)
September 1997– October 1998Exclusion Zone revisedSalem and Old Towne become part of the Exclusion Zone (Kokelaar 2002).
1998Population declineBy early 1998, the island's population had reduced to 3000 (about 70%) (Kokelaar 2002).
8 October 2002–August 2003EvacuationLower Belham valley and Isles Bay (including Old Towne) (Sparks & Hawkesworth 2004)
12–13 July 2003Largest dome collapse to date and island-wide ashfallVolume of 210 Mm3 of material with a maximum ashfall thickness of 154 mm in Old Towne (Herd et al. 2005; Edmonds et al. 2006). The British Government approved an extra $20 000 000 EC (approximately £5 million) budget supplement to enable the clean up of ash deposits after the dome collapse (GoM 2004)
20 May 2006Second largest dome collapse to dateVolume of 115 Mm3 of material (Trofimovs et al. 2012), with a maximum ashfall thickness of 30 mm in Friths (Loughlin et al. 2011)
15 February–21 July 2007EvacuationEvacuation of lower Belham Valley (including Old Towne) (CDERA 2007)
July 2008EvacuationBrief evacuation of lower Belham Valley (Carib Daily, 2008). Associated with an explosion on 29 July
1 August 2008New Hazard Level systemThe Hazard Level system replaced the previous Alert Level System (MVO 2012)
January 2009Full evacuation70 people were evacuated from the lower Belham Valley (Antigua Sun 2009)
December 2009–23 February 2010Night-time evacuationPartial evacuation of the Lower Belham Valley, Isles Bay and part of Old Towne
11 February 2010Partial dome collapseVolume of approximately 40–50 Mm3 (Scientific Advisory Committee 2010). This ended the fifth phase of dome growth (MVO 2012)