The Associated Press reports that rock falls from a spewing volcano stirred up more volcanic ash Friday on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, which lost half its population after a devastating eruption last decade. Dozens of small earthquakes accompanied ash plumes that have billowed up 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) this week, prompting officials to distribute masks to residents, said James White Jr., acting director of the Disaster Management Coordination Agency. A thin layer of volcanic residue now coats several northwestern towns, and ashfall — which can cause respiratory problems and tiny scratches on the eyes — is expected to continue, said Paul Cole, director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Cole said the Soufriere Hills volcano, which stirred to life Sunday for the first time in 10 months, may be creating a new lava dome, a mound of cooled lava that forms at the volcano’s opening. It would be at least the fifth time that has occurred since the volcano became active in 1995. “There aren’t any ways to tell how long it will stay active, but it’s been going for 14 years on and off, so my guess is that it will continue doing what it’s been doing,” Cole said.
In 1997, a volcanic eruption killed 19 people and buried much of the island, including its former capital, Plymouth, which is now abandoned. Half the British territory’s 12,000 inhabitants left.
For the original report go to http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jvgfO0q75A8CKnzvB8Ok6oTLud1AD9B7QDT81