Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Coexisting with volcanoes : the relationships between La Soufrière and the society of St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles

Scarlett, Jazmin Paris


Jazmin Paris Scarlett


Rebecca (Volcanologist) Williams

Greg Bankoff


Human population growth has resulted in increased numbers of people living in areas prone to disasters. Exploring the historical and social context of how volcanoes and their eruptions influence society in different socioeconomic and cultural ways over time helps us to understand the present-day challenges faced by those living in an active volcanic environment. La Soufrière volcano, on the island of St. Vincent, has erupted frequently in the recorded history of the Lesser Antilles. The three eruptions investigated (1812, 1902- 1903 and 1979) occur at three distinct stages of societal development: during the slavery era, post-emancipation and on the eve of independence. These distinct stages enable the investigation of how eruptions of La Soufrière highlighted social issues relevant to each time period. A mixed methodologies approach was used to explore how the society of St. Vincent has come to coexist with the low-frequency, high impact events of La Soufrière through time. The impact of the eruptions was mainly dependent on magnitude and longevity. This study shows the differences between VEI 4 and VEI 3 eruptions on the island and the control of topography on PDCs and lahars. It presents the most detailed chronology of the 1812 event to date and reveals previously overlooked aspects of 1902 eruptive activity of inland- direct base surges and a volcanogenic landslide. The mismatch effect is explored in how people experienced and recollected the 1979 eruption. This study finds that the volcanic hazard impacts occurred in the same places for the three eruptions but, damage to the agricultural sector was not homogenous. The differences lay within the socioeconomic structure of the agricultural systems between each eruption and consequent recovery options available. Furthermore, the volcanic hazard impacts, St. Vincent’s smallness, social capital and opportunities influenced whether people returned to their homes, stayed in evacuated locations or migrated off island. The island also shares typical coping adaptive strategies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as migration/resettlement within and off the island and, temporary and permanent abandonment, which evolved from the loss of indigenous knowledge. This study demonstrates the importance of combining physical and social science to understand the complex interactions between volcanoes and people that lead to coexistence.


Scarlett, J. P. (2020). Coexisting with volcanoes : the relationships between La Soufrière and the society of St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 22, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Geology
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Geology, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2020


Thesis (66.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 Scarlett, Jazmin Paris. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations