Richard E. A. Robertson

Richard E. A. Robertson
University of the West Indies, St. Augustine | UWI · Seismic Research Centre

PhD

About

92
Publications
46,140
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2,028
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 1987 - August 1993
Ministry of Agriculture
Position
  • Volcanologist

Publications

Publications (92)
Article
Full-text available
The Soufriere volcano is a 1220 m high stratovolcano which occupies the northern part of the island of St. Vincent. It is one of the most active centres of volcanism in the Caribbean and has a record of activity dating back to the Pleistocene. Historic eruptions (since 1718) have caused over 1600 deaths and resulted in damage to property valued in...
Article
Full-text available
A critical challenge during volcanic emergencies is responding to rapid changes in eruptive behaviour. Actionable advice, essential in times of rising uncertainty, demands the rapid synthesis and communication of multiple datasets with prognoses. The 2020-2021 eruption of La Soufrière volcano exemplifies these challenges: a series of explosions fro...
Article
Full-text available
This paper uses volcanic eruptions on Montserrat and St. Vincent to explore the role that British colonial rule in the past and near past (1800–2000) has played in response to and recovery from hazardous events, and in turn, the influence that the nature of the hazards has on these responses. We show that systemic vulnerabilities to natural hazards...
Article
The products of explosive activity of La Soufrière volcano on the island of St Vincent over the last 1000 years are described. Dates for the different eruptions were determined using information from contemporary accounts, fieldwork and radiocarbon dating. Scoria-flow type pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) dominate the products of both the histor...
Article
On 17 September 1996 the Soufriere Hills Volcano started a 9 hour period of dome collapse involving 11.7 × 106 m³ (DRE) of lava. After 2.5 hours of quiescence a sustained explosive eruption began. Estimated eruption parameters are: plume height at least 11.3 km and a maximum of 15 km; 180 m/s for launch velocities of ballistic clasts; peak explosio...
Article
Full-text available
The infrequent nature of volcanic eruptions means that civil authorities and the public may often be unfamiliar with volcanic hazards and may not be fully prepared to deal with them. Many times volcano scientists are required to help governments and citizens understand the threat posed to their lives and property when volcanoes show signs of an imm...
Article
Full-text available
Geological estimates of vertical motions in the central part of the Lesser Antilles show subsidence on timescales ranging from 125.000 to 100 years, which has been interpreted to be caused by interseismic locking along the subduction megathrust. However, horizontal GNSS velocities show that the Lesser Antilles subduction interface is currently buil...
Article
During periods of volcanic unrest, civil authorities around the world depend on information from scientists to guide their decision making. In some instances, limited experience among these authorities cause scientists to take on decision-making responsibility usually reserved for non-scientists. These actions increase the managerial risks faced by...
Preprint
Full-text available
Geological estimates of vertical motions in the central part of the Lesser Antilles show subsidence on timescales ranging from 125.000 to 100 years, which has been interpreted to be caused by interseismic locking along the subduction megathrust. However, horizontal GNSS velocities show that the Lesser Antilles subduction interface is currently buil...
Article
The petrological features of scoria samples and enclosed holocrystalline xenoliths from the last ~1000 years of activity of the La Soufrière volcano of St. Vincent (Lesser Antilles) are described in detail here. The products of the investigated prehistoric eruptions (pre-1440, 1440, 1580 CE) are relatively homogeneous basaltic andesites (with a par...
Article
Full-text available
The Lesser Antilles subduction zone is a challenging region when it comes to unraveling its seismogenic behavior. Over the last century, the subduction megathrust has been seismically quiet, with no large thrust event recorded, which raises the question whether this subduction zone is able to produce large interplate earthquakes or not. However, tw...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Lesser Antilles subduction zone is a challenging region when it comes to unraveling its seismogenic behavior. Over the last century, the subduction megathrust has been seismically quiet, with no large thrust event recorded, which raises the question whether this subduction zone is able to produce large interplate earthquakes or not. However, tw...
Article
Full-text available
We present a high-resolution 2-D P-wave velocity model from a 225 km long active seismic profile, collected over ~60-75 Ma central Atlantic crust. The profile crosses five ridge segments separated by a transform and three non-transform offsets. All ridge discontinuities share similar primary characteristics, independent of the offset. We identify t...
Article
Full-text available
The expansion of geodetic networks and Earth observing systems has allowed for new understandings of continental transform faults, including the partitioning of relative plate motions between multiple active strands and fault behavior during the earthquake cycle. One important global observation is that some continental transform faults creep (i.e....
Article
The Lesser Antilles arc is only one of two subduction zones where slow‐spreading Atlantic lithosphere is consumed. Slow‐spreading may result in the Atlantic lithosphere being more pervasively and heterogeneously hydrated than fast‐spreading Pacific lithosphere, thus affecting the flux of fluids into the deep mantle. Understanding the distribution o...
Article
Full-text available
A forensic analysis of fatalities and displacements from recent volcanic eruptions (1986–2015) provides insights into factors that influence actions to protect life in high-risk environments. Unlike many other geophysical hazard events, volcanic eruptions may be prolonged, and of variable intensity. This is reflected in patterns of volcanic fatalit...
Article
Kick-‘em-Jenny and Kick-‘em-Jack are two submarine volcanoes located in the southern Lesser Antilles arc. We present data on the temporal and spatial compositional variations in lavas and melt inclusions from Kick-‘em-Jenny and four lavas from Kick-‘em-Jack. Analyses of crater samples from Kick-‘em-Jenny show an evolution in magma compositions betw...
Article
Full-text available
The Seismic Research Centre (SRC), formerly known as the Seismic Research Unit (SRU), of the University of the West Indies is located on the island of Trinidad in the Eastern Caribbean. The centre has been operating its volcanological and seismological surveillance network since 1953. Since that time, the network has been upgraded five times result...
Article
Full-text available
Extrusive and intrusive igneous rocks represent different parts of a magmatic system and ultimately provide complementary information about the processes operating beneath volcanoes. To shed light on such processes, we have examined and quantified the textures and mineral compositions of plutonic and cumulate xenoliths and lavas from Bequia, Lesser...
Article
Full-text available
Volcanic ash has the capacity to impact human health, livestock, crops and infrastructure, including international air traffic. For recent major eruptions, information on the volcanic ash plume has been combined with relatively coarse-resolution meteorological model output to provide simulations of regional ash dispersal, with reasonable success on...
Article
Full-text available
We report on the process of generating the first suite of integrated volcanic hazard zonation maps for the islands of Dominica, Grenada (including Kick ‘em Jenny and Ronde/Caille), Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent in the Lesser Antilles. We developed a systematic approach that accommodated the range in prior knowle...
Article
Full-text available
Effective monitoring is an essential part of identifying and mitigating volcanic hazards. In the submarine environment this is more difficult than onshore because observations are typically limited to land-based seismic networks and infrequent shipboard surveys. Since the first recorded eruption in 1939, the Kick-‘em-Jenny (KeJ) volcano, located 8k...
Chapter
The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are part of a binary federation located within the northern Leeward Islands. Their landscapes are as much a result of their geological history as they are the manifestation of interactions of man and nature over time. From the central volcanic mountains draped with tropical rainforests, to the gently sloping pyroc...
Article
Full-text available
The medium of film is well established for education and communication about hazardous phenomena as it provides engaging ways to directly view hazards and their impacts. Empirical analysis can help to understand films’ effectiveness in informing populations at risk and catalysing action to reduce risk. Using volcanic eruptions as a focus, an eviden...
Article
Kick-'em-Jenny (KeJ)—located ca. 8 km north of the island of Grenada—is the only active submarine volcano of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. Previous investigations of KeJ revealed that it lies within a collapse scar inherited from a past flank instability episode. To assess the likelihood of future collapse, we employ here a combined laboratory...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The rock types along the Lesser Antilles arc are categorized into three groups: i) the northern islands (Saba-Montserrat) are mainly low-K tholeiitic andesites, ii) the central islands (Guadeloupe-St Lucia), typically med-K, calc-alkaline andesites and dacites, with minor basalts, and iii) the southern group (St Vincent-Grenada), predominantly thol...
Article
We report on the first ‘real-time' application of the BET_UNREST (Bayesian Event Tree for Volcanic Unrest) probabilistic model, during a VUELCO Simulation Exercise carried out on the island of Dominica, Lesser Antilles, in May 2015. Dominica has a concentration of nine potentially active volcanic centers and frequent volcanic earthquake swarms at s...
Article
Full-text available
In the Small Islands Developing State (SIDS) of St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, the most destructive disasters in terms of human casualties have been the multiple eruptions of La Soufrière volcano situated in the north of St Vincent. Despite this major threat, people continue to live close to the volcano and national development pla...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Document summarizing the debriefing of the exercise, developed with the contribution of all the involved partners.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Official Plan for the development of the Dominica simulation exercise - Roseau, 14th-15th May 2015 - within the activities of VUELCO project, WP 9, task 9.6
Article
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In the last few years, French West Indies observatories from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), in collaboration with The UWI Seismic Research Centre (SRC, University of West Indies), have modernized the Lesser Antilles Arc seismic and deformation monitoring network. 15 new, permanent stations have been installed that strengthen and...
Article
Full-text available
The Caribbean plate and its boundaries with north and south America, marked by subduction and large intra-arc strike-slip faults, are a natural laboratory for the study of strain partitioning and interseismic plate coupling in relation to large earthquakes. Here we use most of the available campaign and continuous GPS measurements in the Caribbean...
Article
Full-text available
The seafloor in the southern Lesser Antilles island arc is an area of active volcanism, cold seeps, and mud volcanoes (Figure 1). The Caribbean’s most active submarine volcano, Kick’em Jenny (KEJ), lying only 190 m below the surface, last erupted in 2001. The seafloor near Trinidad and Tobago hosts an extensive province of mud volcanoes and colds...
Article
Full-text available
Equilibrium crystallization experiments have been performed on a primitive high-MgO basalt (HMB) from Soufrière, St. Vincent, with three initial H2O contents (0·6, 2·3 and 4·5 wt %), at pressures of 0·4, 0·7, 1·0 and 1·3 GPa and temperatures from 1350 to 950°C. Redox conditions, as determined by µXANES analysis of Fe3+ in experimental glasses, were...
Technical Report
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he cause of collapse of a three (3) bedroom concrete house in the Clare Valley area is inconclusive but appears to be largely due to insufficient consideration being given, in the construction of the building, to the nature of the earth materials (soils and underlying geology) that comprise the area. The movement was largely vertical, resulting in...
Chapter
Full-text available
The 1995–present eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat has produced over a cubic kilometre of andesitic magma, creating a series of lava domes that were successively destroyed, with much of their mass deposited in the sea. There have been five phases of lava extrusion to form these lava domes: November 1995–March 1998; November 1999–Jul...
Poster
jointly upgraded their Caribbean seismic network. 15 new stations with broadband (120s or 240s), GPS and strong-motion feeds the Caribbean Tsunami Warning System with real-time data transmitted by satellites. Vault • 2 meters depth vault for thermal insulation and better noise performance or a post-hole. • No connections between pier and walls. • T...
Book
Full-text available
The 1995 to present eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat is one of the most important and best-studied eruptions of an explosive andesitic volcano. This volume presents scientific findings from the period between 2000 and 2010; it follows on from Memoir 21, which focused on the early years of activity between 1995 and 1999. In addition...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Systematic geochemical monitoring of volcanic systems in the English-speaking islands of the Lesser Antilles was initiated by the UWI Seismic Research Centre (SRC) in 2000, as part of its volcanic surveillance programme for the English-speaking islands of the Lesser Antilles. This programme provided the first time-series observations used for the p...
Article
Sulphur Springs is a vigorous, geothermal field associated with the active Soufrière Volcanic Centre in southern Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles island arc. The ‘Sulphur Springs Park’ is an important tourist attraction (touted as the ‘world's only drive-through volcano’) with some of the hot pools being developed into recreational pools. Some 200,000...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
During the last years, IPGP engineers have worked on improving the original Stuttgart shielding (D. Kurrle R. Widmer-Schnidrig, 2005) to facilitate the installation of different seismometers. This efforts have led to the CASIS shielding which includes : ● Granite base plate with engraved positions for 3 different seismometers ● Metal ring and seali...
Article
Natural hazards and religion have had a long association. Among dramatic recounts of past natural disasters connected to beliefs that some greater power exists, earthquakes are amongst the most destructive. The Eastern Caribbean exeriences more than 1,200 seismic events each year but, in recent history, Tobago has not experienced large magnitude or...
Conference Paper
Since June 2009, periods of elevated seismic activity have been experienced around the flanks of Morne Aux Diables Volcano in northern Dominica. This long-dormant volcano is a complex of 7 andesitic lava domes with a central depression where a cold soufrière is evident. Prior to this activity, seismicity was very quiet except for a short period in...
Conference Paper
Title: Volcano tourism at the Sulphur Springs geothermal field, Saint Lucia: Health hazards facing visitors and staff Authors: Erouscilla P. Joseph 1, Nicolas Fournier 2, Jan M. Lindsay 3, Richard Robertson 1, and Denise M. Beckles 4 1Seismic Research Centre, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago 2Wairakei Research...
Technical Report
Full-text available
St. Vincent is a volcanic island, built up by volcanic processes and composed of multiple layers of volcanic materials. The islands’ landscape represents a dynamic balance between the creation of landforms through volcanic eruptions and the denudation of these landforms by processes of weathering and erosion. Mass movement or landslides are one of...
Article
Full-text available
The Caribbean is a region of lush vegetation, beaches, active volcanoes, and significant mountain ranges, all of which create a natural aesthetic that is recognized globally. Yet these very same features, molded through geological, oceanic, and atmospheric processes, also pose natural hazards for the developing countries in the Caribbean. The rise...
Conference Paper
Gravitational instabilities such as debris avalanches or pyroclastic flows represent one of the major natural hazards for populations who live in mountainous or volcanic areas. Detection and understanding of the dynamics of these events is crucial for risk assessment. Furthermore, during an eruption, a series of explosions and gravitational flows c...
Article
Full-text available
A probabilistic seismic hazard analysis has been performed to compute probabilistic seismic hazard maps for the eastern Caribbean region (10° N–19° N, 59° W–64° W), which includes in the north the Leeward Islands (from Anguilla to Dominica) and in the south the Windward Islands (from Martinique to Grenada), Barbados, Trinidad, and Tobago. The analy...
Article
Full-text available
Soufrière volcano in St Vincent, West Indies, is one of the most active volcanoes in the Eastern Caribbean with at least six eruptions since 1718 AD, the latest of which occurred in 1979. Prior to the 1979 eruption, the active crater hosted deep-water lakes during periods of repose, which were always replenished within a few years after the eruptio...
Article
Tracing the fate of unerupted magma is challenging because plutonic roots of young volcanoes are largely inaccessible. Here we develop the use of zircon age spectra to determine crystal provenance and source rocks for volcanic products, in analogy to detrital crystals in sediments. U–Th zircon crystallization ages for the Soufrière Volcanic Complex...