A Collaborative Approach to Monitoring Ambient Volcanogenic Pollution at Sulphur Springs, Saint Lucia.
Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The role of volcano tourism is recognized as an important contributor to the economy of volcanic islands in the Lesser Antilles. However, if it is to be promoted as a sustainable sector of the tourism industry, visitors, tour operators, and vendors must be made aware of the potential health hazards facing them in volcanic environments. Volcanogenic air pollutants are of primary concern in this setting. In general, no warning signs, guidelines for recreational use, or emissions monitoring currently exists to provide warning to the public to decrease their vulnerability to the potential risks, or to minimize the liability of the agencies managing these areas. Sulphur Springs Park in Saint Lucia is a popular international destination, and concerns about the volcanic emissions and its possible health effect have been raised by visitors, staff, and management of the Park. As part of the responsibility of the UWI, Seismic Research Centre (SRC) to provide volcanic surveillance through its geothermal monitoring programme, a network was established for quantifying the ambient SO2 concentrations at Sulphur Springs in order to assess the potential risk of unsafe exposure. This effort required collaboration with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) of Saint Lucia, as well as the staff and management of the Soufrière Regional Development Foundation (SRDF). Local personnel were trained in the active field sampling and analytical techniques required for the assessment of ambient SO2 concentrations over the monitoring period, thereby contributing to an active community-based effort. This type of approach was also thought to be an effective option for scientists to engage communities as partners in disaster risk reduction. Lessons learnt from this experience are presented for the benefit of other citizen monitoring projects, including its use as a tool for promoting volcanic hazard education, and enhancing communication and understanding between geoscientists and the community they serve.