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Lopevi: attempts at settlement

Attempts at settlement  |  Occasional violent eruptions
A potential threat for nearby islands

Occasional violent eruptions

When James Cook sailed past Lopevi in 1774, he observed a pyramid-shaped mountain, with no sign of activity. Since 1863, major eruptive activity has been recorded and appears to follow a rough cycle of about 20 years (1863, 1892, 1908, 1922, 1939, 1960, ...). The extremely violent eruption of July 10, 1960 began with Plinian-type activity on the north-western slope in the form of an ash plume rising 10,000 m, visible from Port Vila 150 km away. A variety of events followed: pyroclastic flows, Hawaiian-type emissions, and within barely a month, Strombolian, Vulcanian and fumarole activity. Over the following few months, large lava and ash flows covered nearly 1000 hectares of land in the north-western district, the only part of the island affected throughout the event.
On July 7, 1963, a new eruption began with an explosion within the main crater, followed a few weeks later by a renewal of activity in the secondary craters left over from the 1960 eruption, at about 900m elevation, where intense Strombolian activity was observed (lava, gas, explosions, ...). From 1963 to1982, there was a succession of events: ash projections, plumes, lava fountains and flows, Strombolian explosions, and even a 3000m high Plinian cloud.
Between 1982 and 1998, the activity consisted mostly of fumaroles . A renewal of activity was observed in July 1998.
Over the years, the lava flows  have increased the size of Lopevi Island, and the map established in 1963 has been updated accordingly. Processing of radar images taken by satellite showed the extent of lava flows which occurred between June and December 2001. The Lopevi volcano is now being monitored by satellite, processing a variety of data: visual images, temperature measurements, SO2 concentrations, radar images, etc.

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