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August 1999 Vol. 14, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Fiji and Saba Warnings

from the August, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The diverís world is full of surprises, and some recent ones concern the possibility of volcanic eruptions in places long considered low-risk. In Fiji, New Zealand geologist Dr. Shane Cronin recently announced that the Pacific island of Taveuni, known as the garden island of Fiji, is a sleeping volcano thatís due to erupt at any time. At 183 square miles, Taveuni is the third largest of Fijiís 360 islands, but up till now the islandís topography, which lacks the typical volcanic ďconeĒ shape, has disguised the volcano hiding below. Taveuniís last major eruption was supposedly 300-400 years ago, but Cronin says the island has had regular eruptions about every 60 years and that the next eruption is overdue. Warning signs could emerge as late as days before an eruption unless a seismograph network is installed to give residents more notice. Discovery of Taveuniís volcano is not only bad news for divers; it also could throw a wrench in the plans of hundreds of international visitors who are expected to travel to Taveuniís location astride the International Date Line for millennium parties.

There may also be volcanic threats closer to home. Recent studies of groundwater temperatures on the fringe of Sabaís dormant Mount Scenery volcano have gone up 50į. The government plans to set up an observatory on St. Maarten this fall to monitor both Mt. Scenery and St. Eustatiusí Quill Volcano, two of the Caribbeanís 14 known volcanoes, so that island populations can be given advance notice and have time to evacuate if an eruption is imminent.

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