Tuesday 2 May 2017

Shipping warning issued after eruption on Kick 'em Jenny.

A warning has been issued to shipping after the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre in Trinidad detected an eruption on Kick 'em Jenny, a submarine volcano about 8 km to the north of Granada at about 5.45 pm local time on Saturday 29 April 2017. The eruption was reportedly felt on northern Granada, and was followed by a number of further events over the following two days, with over 40 events detected on Monday 1 May.  As a precaution a shipping exclusion zone surrounds the volcano to a distance of 1.5 km; due to the heightened risk to shipping during periods of activity this zone has been increased to 5 km until further notice.

Map showing the exclusion zone around Kick 'em Jenny. Caribbean 360.

Kick 'em Jenny rises 1300 m above the surrounding seafoor, but remains 180 m below the surface. It was first discovered in July 1939, when an eruption broke the surface and threw material several hundred meters into the air, as well as generating a tsunami which was observed as far away as Barbados, though it was too small to cause any damage. However Kick 'em Jenny is labled on many earlier maritime charts, indiating that people have been aware there was something here for several centuries, even if they did not know the nature of the feature.

The Lesser Antilles are located at the eastern fringe of the Caribbean Tectonic Plate. The Atlantic Plate (strictly speaking, an extension of the South American Plate which runs to the northeast of the Caribbean) is being subducted beneath this, and as it sinks into the Earth, is melted by the heat of the planets interior. Some of the melted material then rises up through the overlying Caribbean Plate as magma, fuelling Kick 'em Jenny and the other volcanoes of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. The subduction of the Atlantic Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate is not a smooth process, with the two plates constantly sticking together then breaking apart as the tectonic pressure builds up, causing Earthquakes in the process, though since the boundary between the two plates is some way to the east of the islands, Earthquakes in the Lesser Antilles tend to be both deep and offshore, which lessens their destructive potential.

 The subduction of the Atlantic Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate fuels the volcanoes of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. George Pararas-Carayannis.

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