Sensing Volcanoes – Part 3: Coordination, Conversation, Collaboration – Adventures in The Caribbean

In mid-March 2023 the UK contingent of the Curating Crises team made their way to Montserrat and St Vincent for a period of intensive collaboration with our Caribbean counterparts. Archives were explored, rocks collected, and conferences attended – the trips were a much-needed opportunity to get the many heads making this project a success back in (almost) the same room to reflect on progress so far, and upcoming collaborations!

Team Montserrat

David, Martin, James and Matthew headed out to Montserrat for a week of exploration in the Archives and to connect with Karen and Thiff at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory who have been running a series of after school clubs featuring archive materials, old and modern maps, and discussions about the eruption that started in 1995. While out there, the team made connections with government departments courtesy of the links already made by scientists at MVO.

We asked the team to record a reflection of some of their experiences which you can listen to here!

Team St Vincent

Hot on the heels of team Montserrat, Jenni and Bridie were joined by James in St Vincent alongside Jerry Philips (University of Bristol) in time for the country conference focussed on the 2020-21 eruption of La Soufrière St Vincent. The conference featured talks from a huge range of global scientists, the National Emergency Management Organisation, St Vincent Forestry service, members of the community living in the Red zone and many more! The talks were open to the public which gave presenters the opportunity to share their findings directly to those effected by the eruption as well as offering communities the chance to ask questions and offer their unique perspectives.

One particularly pleasing moment came during the talk introducing the Curating Crises online database where members of the public were pleased to inform our team that the “Mary Ann Robinson/ Robertson” identified as attempting to give an early warning about volcanic activity before the 1902 eruption was almost certainly a Robertson! This caused much excitement as Richie Robertson (UWISRC) is a popular figure on St Vincent after the “Richie and Ralph” radio show which gave daily reports on volcanic activity during the 2020-21 eruption of La Soufrière.

In addition to the conference, the team spent time working with members of UWISRC and communities in the Red Zone who had been taking part in the Changing Landscapes project. The project is rooted in participatory storytelling, supplemented by the narrative embedded in measured data from a network of low-cost rain gauges. As we arrived at the end of March, participants were in the final stages of creating a series of short films about life in the Red Zone featuring their own footage, interviews and photography collected over the course of the Changing Landscapes project. The films were premiered at the Hairouna Film Festival in April – the videos will be available soon on the UWISRC YouTube channel where you can already take a look at the Changing Landscapes photography exhibition. As part of the final workshop, rainfall data collected by the team was plotted on a large banner (repurposed from the conference!) onto which participants stuck their own first-hand observations of individual rainfall events.


Our respective weeks were extremely busy but gave the whole team – UK and Caribbean based – new energy moving towards creating content for the Royal Society exhibit in July, as well as plans for research output and ongoing contributions…definitely worth the trip!

Back in the UK, attention turned to preparing props and exhibit panels for the Royal Society…


“Here’s one we made earlier: volcanic ash, carpentry and the art of sticking”