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Trinidad closely monitoring mud volcano

By Trinidad Express

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(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — Senior Geoscientist at Touchstone Exploration, Xavier Moonan, says the Piparo mud volcano would be closely monitored in the coming weeks as fractures continue to widen.

Moonan said it was difficult to tell when, or if, the volcano would erupt.

But the latest observations found that gas was still being expelled at the main vent with a constant hissing sound. He said small pools on the northern side continue to bubble occasionally, while gas escaped along fractures heading westward as well as southward.

Moonan said a very small vent had appeared approximately 30 feet south of the main vent and bubbles constantly.

He said, “The main changes observed over the last week has been an increase in the number and width of the fractures on southern side. Southern area has gone downward by almost a foot overall. The northern fractured area has also gone downward but by much less approximately eight to ten centimetres.”

Moonan said overall the area was still experiencing subsidence (sinking), now a bit faster on the southern side than the northern.

In 1997, the volcano erupted three weeks after the first fractures were discovered.

Moonan said, “That is the only baseline we can follow. So we are looking at the volcano this month in particular, really closely to see if it follows the same trend.”

Residents reported loud noises and earth movement in the area on September 22.

At least one house was damaged in the activity. The affected family removed all their belongings and were staying with relatives.

Last week, evacuation maps were posted throughout the community outlining the route residents would take in event of an emergency.

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein stated that residents will take from Cipriani Trace and Pancho Trace (West) through the Piparo Road and back to the Guaracara-Tabaquite Road. The evacuation map will be posted in every street at the most strategic points.

Hosein also assured residents that the ministry’s Disaster Management personnel were trained and equipped to provide emergency response.

But Princes Town MP Barry Padarath was still pleading to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to provide emergency housing for the affected residents.

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