Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago have been put on orange alert

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Experts warn of possible imminent eruption of Kick’em Jenny volcano

Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago have been put on orange alert following significant seismic activity around the underwater volcano Kick’em Jenny, but significant tsunami risk remains low

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, — The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies has issued an orange alert for the underwater volcano Kick’em Jenny, after strong and sustained signals were recorded in the early hours of this morning suggesting than an eruption could occur with less than 24-hours notice.

Instruments monitoring the volcano, located 8km north of Grenada (12.3000° N, 61.6400° W), recorded strong, continuous activity between 1:25 a.m. and 3.am.

“Signs of elevated seismicity began on 11th July and continue to present. For the period since the 11th July 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.

For the period since the 11th July 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.

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 increases the closer the volcano’s dome was to the surface of the sea, unlike Kick’em Jenny, which is located in extremely deep water.

What does an orange alert mean?

The islands of Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago are particularly on alert. The SRS is recommending that vulnerable communities should be advised of evacuation routes, and transport put on standby to facilitate evacuation.

Radio stations are being advised to convey emergency messages that may emanate from the SRC.

Shipping vessels should stay outside of the first exclusion zone (1.5 km from the summit of Kick’em Jenny). Non-essential shipping, such as pleasure craft, should stay outside of the secondary exclusion zone, or 5km clear of the summit. An eruption, or increased activity around Kick’em Jenny, is particularly dangerous for ships since the gases it releases can sink vessels, due to lowering the water density.

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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.

This is a rapidly developing story.

Image credit: Wayne Hsieh, July 23, 2015 (AMG)

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