Montserrat, the smoulderingly beautiful island in the British West Indies, is overshadowed by periodic sulphurous eruptions and rumblings from the Soufrière Hills volcano. Jets of lava can shoot out of its crater to a great height. During my visit to the island I attended a school poetry competition on the theme "Volcano in Me Back Yard". The scientific vocabulary used by the primary-school-aged contestants – "tectonic", "seismicity", "pumice" – suggested an intimate relationship with the volcano. Barely 11 miles long and seven miles wide, Montserrat was "discovered" in the mid-Seventies by the Beatles producer Sir George Martin, who built a recording studio on the edge of the Soufrière Hills for the use of, among others, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Sting and the Police. The fabled Air studio has long since been abandoned owing to volcanic dust, yet much of Montserrat retains a discreet charm. Everyone seems to know everyone else. It is impossible to walk anywhere without being offered a friendly lift. "Man, you lookin' kinda tired – you wan' me to carry you?" Crime is almost unknown in this peaceful, underpopulated country, whose prison seldom houses more than eight convicts. The convicts' chief manual labour, apparently, is to mow His Excellency the Governor's lawn. Like the Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos, Montserrat is one of the few remaining British dependencies where lives are organised and given meaning by the Union Jack. It has none of the gaudy, all-inclusive resort culture and packaged hedonism of elsewhere in the Caribbean. Montserrat is the antithesis of Jamaica, for example, where tourists have on occasion been threatened with a gun or knife. While Montserrat may lack a dangerous edge and sense of excitement, British travellers are increasingly drawn to its unhurried pace and drowsy charms. The island is a 15-minute flight from tourist-ridden Antigua. The only passenger on the propeller plane (apart from me) was an English birdwatcher, who hoped to catch a glimpse of the "critically endangered" Montserrat oriole. Following the cataclysmic eruptions of 1997, the oriole and other indigenous species lost their natural habitat in the south. The island's historic capital of Plymouth was entombed in ash, and Montserratians airfreighted in their hundreds to Gatwick. (There is now a thriving Montserratian community in Stoke Newington and the Ridley Road market area in London.)

Galeras is considered the most active volcano in Colombia, followed by Nevado del Ruiz. Its earliest activity during the Holocene has been dated at 7050 BC ± 1000 years through radiocarbon dating. Other eruptions similar to this event include those in 3150 BC ± 200 years, 2580 BC ± 500 years, 1160 BC ± 300 years, 490 BC ± 100 years, and in 890 AD ± 200 years. Typically these eruptions consist of a central vent explosion, conducive to an explosive eruption causing pyroclastic flows and/or lahars. Eruptions in more recent times, which have been recorded consist of those in 1535, December 1580, July 1616, 1641, 1670, 1754, November 1796, June 1823, October 1828, 1834, October 1865, July 1889, 1891, December 1923, October 1924, October 1932, February 1936, July 1947, January 1950, 1974, February 1989, January 1990, January 1993, March 2000, June 2002, July 2004, November 2005, and October 2007. Reported incidents with no official proof occurred in 1836, 1930, 1933, and 1973.[5]
1 3 1