8 Oct 2009

Seismologist says insufficient monitoring of Vanuatu volcano endangering lives

2:37 pm on 8 October 2009

A seismologist in Vanuatu says insufficient monitoring of the Gaua volcano is endangering the lives of the 600 people who live nearby.

The usually quiet volcano located in the centre of the northern Vanuatu island has been active since late September and has been on alert level one, the lowest of five, since the 29th.

Efline Garaebiti of the geohazards department says the volcano is surrounded by Vanuatu's largest lake and the risk of an eruption generating a lahar or mudflow is high.

"We need back up for seismic monitoring because for the time being we have just one polyseismograph but we really need back up of two or three extra seismographs in order to locate the events."

Efline Garaebiti says the gas emissions from the volcano are being monitored and if they increase the island's residents will need to evacuate.