(PRESS RELEASE) – The National Emergency Management Organization would like to clarify that the Watsapp images being cirulated from the island of Martinique are not pyroclastic flows, but rather rapid flowing volcanic mudslide of rock debris and water known as “lahar” which occured in the river Prêcheur on Monday, January 08, 2018 at about 9:00 p.m.
The mud flows are due to recent heavy rains on the island. The river Prêcheur is to the north of the island of Martinique and located between Mount Pelée and the extinct Mont Conil volcanoes.
The island has experienced occurences of lahar in previous years; and a more recent occurence was on June 19, 2010 where twenty houses near the Prêcheur river had been impacted without causing loss of life.
Pyroclastic flows on the other hand are fast-moving current of hot gas and volcanic matter made up of high-density mix of hot lava blocks, pumice, ash and volcanic gas. They move at very high speed down volcanic slopes, typically following valleys.
The State services (The Volcanic and Seismological Observatory of Martinique) in Martinique have set up an active intelligence unit to monitor the development of the phenomenon.