[an error occurred while processing this directive]

November 2002

Delve deeper into hot topics featured in NGM's November issue with help from Resources. Click on a link, pick up a periodical, browse through a book, and explore!
The Book Guy
Grey TabMore Book Guy
GeographicaWho Knew?It's A Mola
Apocalypse Soon?New InsectAnacondaStill Smokin'Losing Ground
The Caribbean

Still Smokin'
Living with a hot volcano

After awakening with a bang in 1995, Montserrat's volcano has defied hopes that it would quiet down fairly quickly. It continues to erupt and may do so for years to come. More than half the residents of the 39-square-mile (101-square-kilometer) British island in the Caribbean have reluctantly moved away. But 4,500 are sticking it out, and London has allocated more than 200 million dollars in aid.

Since the volcano's first blasts, holdouts have had to learn about the possible dangers to protect themselves. "When you hear a five-year-old talking about a pyroclastic flow, you know we've all become students," says Carol Osborne, owner of the Vue Pointe Hotel, referring to the clouds of ash, rock, and gas that boil down the sides of the cone with little warning. Young and old recently gathered at a lookout  to get a better view of the source: the fiery dome of lava that builds, collapses, and builds again in a now-familiar cycle.

With their capital, Plymouth, up to its rooftops in ash as heavy as cement, and with many villages destroyed or off-limits, Montserratians are re-creating the landscape of their former lives—homes, schools, playgrounds, shops, offices, their hospital, the police station—in the safe zone, the once underdeveloped north.

"We were in a kind of limbo before," says Osborne, whose hotel is occupied these days by scientists. "But now we're rebuilding and getting on with our lives."

—A. R. Williams

Web Links

Montserrat Volcano Observatory Website
Find out the current status of the Montserrat volcano, including risk assessments, a history of the volcano, photos, and more.

The Montserrat Reporter
Read about island news and find links to other Montserrat websites.

CIA World Factbook
Learn about Montserrat's geography, politics, economy, and people.

Free World Map

Williams, A. R. "Montserrat: Under the Volcano," National Geographic (July 1997), 58-75.

© 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead