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VOLCANIC TSUNAMI GENERATING SOURCE MECHANISMS IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN REGION  [2004]

George Pararas-Carayannis

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Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, volcanic island flank failures and underwater slides have generated numerous destructive tsunamis in the Caribbean region. Convergent, compressional and collisional tectonic activity caused primarily from the eastward movement of the Caribbean Plate in relation to the North American, Atlantic and South American Plates, is responsible for zones of subduction in the region, the formation of island arcs and the evolution of particular volcanic centers on the overlying plate. The inter-plate tectonic interaction and deformation along these marginal boundaries result in moderate seismic and volcanic events that can generate tsunamis by a number of different mechanisms. The active geo-dynamic processes have created the Lesser Antilles, an arc of small islands with volcanoes characterized by both effusive and explosive activity. Eruption mechanisms of these Caribbean volcanoes are complex and often anomalous. Collapses of lava domes often precede major eruptions, which may vary in intensity from Strombolian to Plinian. Locally catastrophic, short-period tsunami-like waves can be generated directly by lateral, direct or channelized volcanic blast episodes, or in combination with collateral air pressure perturbations, nuéss ardentes, pyroclastic flows, lahars, or cascading debris avalanches. Submarine volcanic caldera collapses can also generate locally destructive tsunami waves. Volcanoes in the Eastern Caribbean Region have unstab
le flanks. Destructive local tsunamis may be generated from aerial and submarine volcanic edifice mass edifice flank failures, which may be triggered by volcanic episodes, lava dome collapses, or simply by gravitational instabilities. The present report evaluates volcanic mechanisms, resulting flank failure processes and their potential for tsunami generation. More specifically, the report evaluates recent volcanic eruption mechanisms of the Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat, of Mt. Pelée on Martinique, of Soufriere on St. Vincent and of the Kick’em Jenny underwater volcano near Grenada and provides an overall risk assessment of tsunami generation from volcanic sources in the Caribbean region.

From the journal

Science of Tsunami Hazards

ISSN : 8755-6839

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