July 24, 20151466Views

(Image from seismometre deployed atop the Kick ’em Jenny volcano. Photo Credit: Uri ten Brink, U.S. Geological Survey)

Director of the University of the West Indies Seismic
Research Centre (UWI-SRC), Dr. Richard Robertson has sought to allay fears of
an imminent tsunami threat following the increased seismic activity recorded at
the submarine volcano Kick ’em Jenny.

Confirmation of an eruption of the volcano on Thursday
created heightened concerns in the region about the potential for a tsunami.

However, speaking in St, Vincent and the Grenadines on
Thursday, Dr. Robertson gave assurances that persons should not be too
concerned about tsunami generation based on the depth of the volcano.

“It’s too early to say what would
happen but certainly in terms of the depth of Kick ’em Jenny, that kind of
scenario of it possibly generating tsunamis is quite low and it’s nothing that
people should even worry about,” he stated.

The scientist who has been at the
UWI-SRC since 1993 said the more immediate concern is the impact on shipping and
he encouraged boaters to adhere to the exclusion zone.

 “Ships should not be within five kilometres of
the summit of the Kick ‘em Jenny volcano and that is mainly to safeguard
against them being affected by some sort of eruptive activity,” Dr. Robertson

The increased seismic activity that
has been recorded at Kick ‘em Jenny is not unusual. In the initial update on
the situation Thursday, it was reported that since
July 11, more than 200 micro and small earthquakes, of varying magnitudes, have
been recorded.

Dr. Robertson explained
that “
time to time, Kick ‘em Jenny has periods of increased seismicity. Eruptions are
most often confined below the surface of the ocean and have not affected
surrounding areas but it is always possible that magnitude could increase and
eruptions could break the surface.”

 “Activity at Kick ’em Jenny is following
similar patterns to what has occurred in the past where you’ve had increased seismicity
followed by some sort of eruptive activity. The most common thing it does is
that it goes back quiet again until the next time it happens. Since 1935, Kick ’em
Jenny has had on average one episode like this every 10 years and the last time
it happened was 2001, so we were expecting in a sense that something would
happen within the next couple years. In fact, it’s a bit overdue so this is not
unusual in that sense,” he added.

The UWI-SRC Director has also given
assurances that the situation is being closely monitored and updates will be
provided to governments and disaster management agencies. He cautioned against
fuelling rumours and gave assurances that no information is being withheld.

The Department of Disaster Management
will continue to monitor these updates and provide relevant information to
residents of the British Virgin Islands.

The orange alert put in place on
Thursday, remains in effect. As explained by the UWI-SRC on its website, this
level of alert indicates that there is a highly elevated level of seismic and/or fumarolic activity or other unusual activity.  

full statement provided by
of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC), Dr.
Richard Robertson is available via the following link.