The Trinidad-based Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) says it is too early declare that the underwater volcano, Kick-em-Jenny (KeJ), has become dormant again following days of no “significant increase” in activity.
The SRC said that the Orange alert, which was issued earlier this week remains and that while “there has been no significant increase in activity at Kick-em-Jenny submarine volcano” since the last update,” it is still too early to declare this pause in activity as the end of the unrest episode.
“As a result, the alert level at Kick-em-Jenny remains at ORANGE. The UWI Seismic Research Centre is continuing to monitor the situation,” the SRC said.
The National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) said “with this increase in the alert level, ships and other marine operators are asked to observe the exclusion zone of 5 km/3.1 miles”.
Kick-em-Jenny is one of the most active volcanoes in the Eastern Caribbean and the SRC said its instruments may record increased earthquake activity beneath the volcano during sustained periods.
It said overnight, during March 11-12 period, a substantial increase in earthquake activity associated with the volcano was recorded and the alert level increased from Yellow to Orange.
“Within the last few hours, this earthquake activity has slowed,” the SRC said, but noted “because volcanoes are not completely predictable and given the changes observed in the pattern of behaviour of KeJ, we cannot be absolutely certain that this period of elevated seismicity will definitely lead to an eruption in the short term”.
Since the volcano began acting up, there have been several reports of a possible tsunami, but the SRC noted that it “unlikely given the present location of the volcano and its pattern of activity.
“Tsunamis from submarine volcanoes can either be caused by explosions or collapse. The current depth to the KeJ vent (~200m) inhibits its explosive potential and hence its ability to generate a tsunami. It would have to build up a summit closer to the submarine surface for it to attain the ability to generate threatening tsunamis from explosions.”
The SRC said that recent modelling undertaken of collapses from KeJ has provided no convincing evidence that it can produce life-threatening tsunamis at the shoreline since the volume of material involved is relatively small.
“While it is possible that very large explosions or large landslides at KeJ could generate tsunamis, the threat from tsunamis is very low.”