Lahars and Lyrics: Learning from Adjustments in Landscape and Culture Following prolonged Volcanic Disturbance on the Island of Montserrat

Christie, James (2022) Lahars and Lyrics: Learning from Adjustments in Landscape and Culture Following prolonged Volcanic Disturbance on the Island of Montserrat. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Explosive volcanic eruptions can profoundly disturb surrounding landscapes. Volcanic phenomena (e.g., pyroclastic density currents, tephra fallout) inundate the headwaters of proximal river systems with vast quantities of sediment. This perturbs the hydrology of these systems which then respond by increasing sediment and water flux to downstream reaches via lahars. These hazardous sediment-laden flows can induce dramatic, potentially destructive, and long-lived geomorphic changes within affected drainages. Most understanding of the readjustment of rivers following volcanic disturbances comes from studies following short-lived, transient eruptions. By contrast, limited research has considered responses to prolonged episodic eruptions, characterised by repeat phases of eruption and quiescence. This thesis addresses this research gap by exploring how the morphodynamics and lahar activity within the Belham Valley, Montserrat, have evolved in response to episodic disturbance by the eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, 1995 - present. Methods involved include novel longitudinal synthesis of a range of observational data, from ground-based photographic surveys to satellite-derived Digital Surface Models, as well as statistical analysis, and numerical modelling. I show: 1) episodic eruptions induce distinct fluvial responses, manifesting in aggradation-degradation cycles driven by evolving sediment availability, water supply, and vegetation cover; 2) lahar hazard is mediated by evolving catchment-scale conditions; 3) modelling the temporal evolution of lahar activity in such systems shows promise but remains a challenge. During a research assistantship alongside my PhD, I was heavily involved in the development of a co-created public engagement project on Montserrat, Mountain Aglow. This project sought to incorporate the lived experience of eruption in the form of arts – i.e., lyrics – into Disaster Risk Management (DRM) strategies. The final chapter of this thesis presents an evaluative study of this project. I demonstrate that incorporation of lived experience and co-creation of DRM practices is an effective and recommendable means of improving engagement with at-risk populations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2024 12:19
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2024 12:19


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