The Public Entity Saba is and has been working on improving its disaster preparedness response capacity over the past few years, writes The Daily Herald. This includes the monitoring and collection of seismic data on the island. This means that the government is aware of the threat posed by any volcanic activity and also is prepared to act if there is a need to,” a statement issued Monday by Saba Government Information Service read.
The statement followed a two-page article on “The Dutch Volcano” published Saturday in the Volkskrant newspaper’s science supplement. In the article, Dutch volcanologists expressed their concerns about increased seismic activity on Saba, which could indicate that the dormant Mt. Scenery volcano is awakening. The report was based on findings by Dutch volcanologists Piet Vroon of Free University in Amsterdam and Manfred van Bergen of Utrecht University, who visited Saba in mid-2014.
Their main concerns were the increasing number of landslides and the disappearance of vegetation on the west-slope of Mt. Scenery. The experts stressed that the observed phenomena did not lead to the conclusion that an eruption would be imminent, because these could also be caused by global warming and or erosion, it was stated. Nevertheless, the volcanologists recommended closer monitoring of seismic activity. They pointed to the risk of the “very steep, unstable slopes, which, in combination with torrential rains and mudslides pose serious danger,” it was stated in the article.
“We have not received any information from experts that there is evidence of increased seismic activity, so we are, therefore, unaware of the source of the reports,” Governor Johnson said in response to Volkskrant’s report. The governor stated that a meeting with Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute KNMI is scheduled for this week, and a statement about the outcome of that meeting would be issued next week, he said.
Since 10-10-10, the Saba government has been in contact with KNMI, which took over monitoring from University of the West Indies’ Seismological Unit to discuss various technical aspects related to monitoring, specifically the type of equipment and how much equipment would be necessary. Experts from the organization have been on the island earlier this month to make an assessment of the equipment and are to return in March with new equipment to be installed in three locations. There is already a fully operational seismometer on the island in St. John’s, it was stated.
However, in the article it was stated that Saba’s seismometer was out of operation “for months.” “If a situation occurs where residents need to be evacuated, there is also an evacuation plan that was tested as recently as 2012, in conjunction with the Dutch military. At that time there was a simulation exercise during which a number of residents were evacuated from the island by a military ship,” the government’s statement read.