BERNHARD EDMAIER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BERNHARD EDMAIER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Soufriere Hills volcano erupting. Pyroclastic flow descending the slopes of the Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat Island, in the Caribbean Sea. A pyroclastic flow is a highly destructive event that consists of a very hot cloud of volcanic ash, dust and gases. The cloud cascades down the side of the volcano, supported by searingly hot gases that can reach 800 degrees Celsius. The cloud can reach speeds in excess of 160 kilometres per hour. Soufriere Hills began erupting in July 1995, its first recorded eruption. Since then it has been nearly continually active. In the autumn of 1997, much of the island's population was evacuated and several towns were destroyed by the volcano.
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