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Montserrat is a volcanic island in the Caribbean On the southern end of the island is the Soufriere Hills volcano The volcano which first erupted about 100000 years ago has been dormant for centuries The volcano took the islanders by surprise when it began to erupt again in 1995 Since then life on the island has changed greatly Montserrat island is located in a 50 million year old subduction zone This is an area where one of the earths oceanic plates is forced beneath a more buoyant plate Fluids rich in water and dissolved minerals are taken out of the crust that is being driven into the earths mantle by the extreme temperatures and pressure When the fluids rise they cause the overlying mantle to melt and form magma The magma erupts along the subduction zone and eventually builds up on itself and forms volcanic islands httpwwwgeomtueduvolcanoeswestindiessoufrieregovtimagesfortyjpg The volcano began erupting again on July 18 1995 after remaining silent for almost four hundred years The volcano has erupted numerous times since then The southern part of the island has been evacuated three times There are about 3200 people living on the island today Of the 800 that fled most plan to return to the island once the volcano settles down The problem is that no one knows when that will be It could be a long time before the people return to the island httpwwwnationalgeographiccomfeatures98volcanoesimages1ml-back1jpg Volcanic activity cannot be predicted Different things happen with different volcanoes and none are the same Looking back at the volcanoes recent history it may be safe to assume that the volcano will continue to erupt for a number of years No one can actually be certain what exactly the volcano will do in the years to come It may decide to settle down for another four centuries The only thing that anyone can really do is watch what happens and try to keep the people on
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