A warning has been issued to people living near Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago, after an underwater volcano called Kick’em Jenny began showing signs of sustained activity in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies picked up strong continuous activity between 1.25am and 3 am.
“Signs of elevated seismicity began on July 11 and continue to present. For the period since July 11, a total of more than 200 micro and small earthquakes, of varying magnitudes, have been recorded, with the largest, prior to the strong signal, less than magnitude 3.0,” the SRC reported. “This activity is being closely monitored by the UWI-SRC and further updates would be issued as more information becomes available,” the centre said.
Speaking to the media today, Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit in Barbados, Dr Lorna Innis, reassured residents of the island that the probability of a tsunami following the possible eruption of Kick’em Jenny was low – but not non-existent. Said Dr. Innis, the probability of tsunami generation from underwater volcanoes increased the closer the volcano’s dome was to the surface of the sea, unlike Kick’em Jenny, which is believed to be located at a depth of 180m under water.
What does an orange alert mean?
At the orange alert level, the SRC recommends that the governments of Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago should advise residents of evacuation routes, and put transportation on standby to facilitate evacuation in the event of a tsunami.
Radio stations are also being advised to convey emergency messages that may emanate from the SRC, and residents are asked to monitor updates on the SRC website.
Maritime exclusion zones
Shipping vessels should stay 1.5 km from the summit of Kick’em Jenny, and non-essential shipping, such as pleasure craft, should not enter within 5 km of the volcano’s summit. An eruption, or increased activity around Kick’em Jenny, is particularly dangerous for marine vessels, since the gases released from the volcano can lower water density and cause sinkage.
Kick’em Jenny last erupted on December 4, 2001 – the time of the last orange alert issue – and it has erupted twelve times since 1939. No tsunami was generated.
Authorities in Barbados have reiterated that no tsunami watches or warnings have been issued, and continue to urge calm in light of the announcement. Similarly, in Grenada, authorities there have been advised that there was yet no need to move residents from coastal areas.
Authorities in the Eastern Caribbean and at the SRC will continue to monitor the readouts from the Kick’em Jenny monitoring instruments over the next 24 hours and will provide media updates as necessary. AMG will continue to monitor developments, and any changes to the current level of alert.
This is a rapidly developing story.