News Releases

Seismic Research Centre helps launch new volcanic gas monitoring system in Saint Lucia

For Release Upon Receipt - March 25, 2014

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – Stakeholders from Saint Lucia’s health and environmental sectors recently convened at the Soufrière Community Access Centre for the launch of a new network to monitor potentially harmful volcanic gases in Soufrière, Saint Lucia. Led by The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC), the primary objective of the project is to gain a better understanding of volcanic emissions or gases at the Soufrière Volcano and the potential impact on environmental and human health. 

The project will specifically measure outputs of sulphur dioxide in the air and arsenic in water at two sites, namely the Sulphur Springs Park and the town of Soufrière.  Residents and visitors have raised concerns about the volcanic gases and possible health effects in these areas to which infants, the elderly, asthmatics and pregnant women are most vulnerable. 

The eight month project also seeks to build local capacity as members of the Soufrière Regional Development Foundation (SRDF) will be trained in the application of low-cost, low-technology monitoring techniques developed by the UWI Department of Chemistry in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. 

“The involvement of the community through the training is an important component of the project as it will improve and expand our capacity to provide volcanic monitoring of gases beyond the life of the project,” said Dr. Erouscilla Joseph, Volcanologist at the UWI-SRC and Principal Investigator on the project. 

Similar networks have been established in Hawaii and Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean but this is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and it will be used as a model for other volcanic islands in the region. 

Dr. Joseph and her team will spend the week on island establishing monitoring sites and training local personnel after which time the data will be managed and interpreted at labs in St. Augustine. A second field survey is planned for the coming months and it is hoped that investigations into health effects will be part of a follow up project. 

The project is funded by The UWI Trinidad and Tobago Research and Development Impact Fund (RDI) and project partners include The Department of Chemistry (UWI St. Augustine), the Soufrière Regional Development Foundation, the Saint Lucia National Emergency Management Organisation and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. 


For further information, please contact the Seismic Research Centre at 662-4659 ext 23 or via email

Photo Caption 

Dr. Erouscilla Joseph of the UWI Seismic Research Centre (far left), discusses the set up of sampling sites with staff of the Sulphur Springs Park as part of the community training. 

About The UWI Seismic Research Centre 

The University of the West Indies (UWI) is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.  

Established in 1953, the Seismic Research Centre is a Centre within the UWI.  It operates the largest network of seismographs and other geophysical instruments in the Caribbean region.  The SRC monitors earthquakes and volcanoes for most of the English-speaking Eastern Caribbean, manages the Montserrat Volcano Observatory as well as it conducts education and outreach activities in these countries.  The Centre is involved in a regional effort to establish a tsunami warning system for the Caribbean. 

About The UWI 

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 50,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding Higher Education Institute (HEI) in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation.  

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.) 

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