Pressure building up under Piparo mud volcano, Trinidad and Tobago

Pressure building up under Piparo mud volcano, Trinidad and Tobago

Pressure is building up under Piparo mud volcano, Trinidad and Tobago, raising fears another eruption is imminent. Geologists said active changes have also been observed on the surface and subsurface of volcanic vents which erupted 22 years ago, killing livestock and birds.

Xavier Moo­nan, Se­nior geo­sci­en­tist at Touch­stone Ex­plo­ration, said re­cent stud­ies done over the past year at the Pi­paro vol­cano con­firm that the vol­cano is show­ing ac­tive changes, the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reports.

The vol­cano has a cyclic­i­ty of large erup­tions every 25 to 30 years, Moonan said. "As such, one can in­ter­pret that an erup­tion can be im­mi­nent."

"We can con­firm that the vent is ris­ing but dur­ing the rainy sea­son the muds are be­ing erod­ed at a faster rate than it is ris­ing," Moo­nan said."We can ap­prox­i­mate that had there been no ero­sion of the mud vol­cano over the past cou­ple years, the cen­tral vent area would have been at least ten feet high­er," he said.

"While the da­ta cur­rent­ly sug­gests that the mud vol­cano is 'swelling' as pres­sure builds at depth, our find­ings are still pre­lim­i­nary as trends over a longer term are need­ed to con­clu­sive­ly state the sta­tus of the mud vol­cano. Nev­er­the­less, we need to pre­pare the com­mu­ni­ty and all those that tra­verse the mud vol­cano dai­ly to be vig­i­lant and to in­form the Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion for any signs of height­ened ac­tiv­i­ty," he said.

"By com­par­ing the 2018 to 2019 sur­vey we can note changes oc­cur­ring with­in the main vent. The vent has be­come more con­strict­ed and has shift­ed to the east south-east. These changes oc­cur­ring be­neath the ground cor­re­spond to changes not­ed in the 3D el­e­va­tion mod­els from the drone sur­veys," Moo­nan said.

Featured image: Eruption of Piparo volcano on February 11, 1997. Credit: Jason Kanhai

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