National Geographic : 1902 Dec
THE ERUPTIONS OF LA SOUFRIERE 445 for the beautiful lake within it, the sur face of which was 1,930 feet above tide, or about eleven hundred feet below the southern rim of the crater. The depth of this lake in the center was 8712 fathoms, according to the statement of P. F. Huggins, engineer, of Kings town, who told me that he sounded it in 1896 (see table in appendix). The northwestern portion was deeper, but Mr Huggins's line was too short to reach bottom there. The walls of the crater were precipitous, like those of Mount Misery, on the Island of St Kitts, and others, while the outer slopes of the mountain were comparatively gentle, except as they were deeply cut into by the very steep-sided ravines of erosion. It is difficult for one who has not visited the Lesser Antilles to realize the precipitous character of the ravines cut into the old tuff beds by the mountain torrents. Slopes of 65° and 75° are common, while those of 85° and verti cality are not rare. Under the usually prevailing conditions, every slope is cov ered with such dense vegetation that its true character is not perceived at once, but the denudation on St Vincent and Martinique resulting from the terrible blasts occurring during the eruptions of this year has revealed in a striking man ner the wonderfully rugged topography of the northern parts of the islands. In April, 1901, earthquakes began to be noticeably more frequent than usual at Kingstown, suggesting to F. W. Griffith, of that place, the idea that trouble might be expected from La Soufriere, as had happened ninety years before, according to the diary of his grandfather, who was living at Kings town at the time. Mr Griffith's proph ecy received little attention, but by De cember of last year La Soufriere itself was rumbling to such a degree that the people living on the Windsor Forest and other estates on the northwestern and western slopes of the mountain became greatly alarmed, and could with diffi- culty be persuaded to remain at their homes. During the succeeding weeks the rumblings became less violent, only to return with renewed force in Feb ruary. The warnings of an approaching erup tion became so unmistakable by the end of April and the beginning of May that nearly every one had left the doomed leeward district north of Chateaubelair by the 6th of the latter month. On the windward side conditions were different, and but little alarm seems to have been felt. The earthquakes were not as se vere and it was supposed that, in case of any eruption, the trade winds would carry all ejecta toward the west. A de ceptive security ! When the great out burst took place, at 2 p. m., May 7, but one person was killed on the leeward side of the island, while on the wind ward side about thirteen hundred and fifty persons were killed outright during the eruption or died afterward of in juries received then. Thousands of families in the northern half of St Vin cent were rendered homeless and desti tute by the storm of lapilli (volcanic dust and ashes), which in a few minutes swept every vestige of tropical verdure from about one-third of the island, re placing the beautiful variegated green of the slopes with a uniform dull gray- the token of desolation. Mr MacDonald,* from his estate at * Mr MacDonald's notes were published in full inl the Kingstown Sentry of May 16, 1902. They have been published also in the Century Magazine for August, 19o2, vol. lxiv, pp. 638-642. The compiler of thle later account in his preliminary note has confounded the Richmond Vale estate with the Richmond estate. Mr MacDouald, fortunately, does not own the Riclhuondl estate, whicl lies between Richmond and Wallibu Rivers and was (le st royed by the eruption. The Richmond Vale estate belongs to the MacDonald brothers and was not seriously injured by the May erup tions, but the September outbursts destroyed the cultivation and damaged the buildings. The house is half a mile northeast of Chateau belair.