My Volcano Story and Island Vibes

The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre’s (UWI-SRC)’s 2019 submission focused on addressing misconceptions around one of the Caribbean’s most visited volcanoes, the Soufriѐre Volcanic Centre, St. Lucia. Two videos, one for the general public (My Island Story: St Lucia) and another for local authorities (Island VIBES), were created to help persons better understand some unique aspects of this volcano and provide basic tips on coping with volcanic eruptions respectively.

Image of St Lucia
Picturesque Soufriѐre, a hub for volcano related tourism in St. Lucia. St. Lucia’s active volcanic centre features a caldera which can generate confusion. The absence of a typical volcanic cone and the tourist traffic associated with volcanic features like the Soufriѐre Sulphur Springs may all contribute to a false sense of security. Residents are aware of the presence of the volcano, but many seem not to fully appreciate the threat it poses. Students may learn about volcanoes at school, but lessons tend to focus on scientific aspects and neglect to mention social impact. The last eruption at the Soufriѐre Volcanic Centre occurred in 1766 and so little collective social memory exists on the fallout from volcanic eruptions. Tourism is a major contributor to the St. Lucian economy. Volcano tourism provides an income for many persons, particularly those in the south-west of the island. The Pitons and the Sulphur Springs are must see attractions for any visitor to St. Lucia. As a result, any communication about the volcano must be sensitive to the economic impact negative messaging may have. Notwithstanding, The UWI-SRC, in partnership with NEMO and the SRDF has for some time been seeking to raise awareness of the volcano and its hazards.


The UWI-SRC team used experiences during routine outreach, followed by extensive stakeholder engagement to tailor the films to the two audiences.  This helped the team to understand common misconceptions they wanted to address.   It also captured the needs of  those decision-makers and first responders who would be called on during any activity.

With ‘My Island Story’  they wanted to make a film about St Lucia by St Lucians so partnered from the outset with the St Lucia National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO and the Soufriere Regional Development Fund (SRDF). A Vox pop format was used where ordinary St. Lucians were asked questions about their volcano. The questions were drafted by the UWI-SRC team and asked by locals on camera. Questions were a combination of those usually received during outreach campaigns and ones gotten from the resident survey.

The second video tool, Island ViBES, caters to emergency management decision makers and first responders. This product required less attention during production as this was by and large a refresh of existing material. During filming, the emphasis here was to capture footage of volcanic features around St. Lucia to provide visual aids during the simulation exercise presented in the video. Aspects of daily life on the island were also captured to create an authentic context for this teaching tool.

A picture of the team filming on St. Lucia
Omari Graham (UWI-SRC) and Marlon St. Brice (Pixcel Video) consult while filming in Anse La Raye, St. Lucia.

In early November 2019 a three person UWI-SRC team spent one week in St. Lucia filming both videos. Volcanologist Dr. Erouscilla Joseph and E&O staff Thais Ramos and Omari Graham oversaw shooting. Pixcel Video, a local video production company was contracted to film and edit both products.

My Island Vibes can be found here and was launched in August 2020. When COVID restrictions are lifted the team plan to use reamaining funds to evaluate the films: so watch this space!