La Grande Soufrière

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La Grande Soufrière
Guadeloupe 114 - Sommet de la Soufrière 1467m - Guadeloupe.jpg
Highest point
Elevation1,467 m (4,813 ft)
Prominence1,467 m (4,813 ft)
Coordinates16°02′40.56″N 61°39′51.12″W / 16.0446000°N 61.6642000°W / 16.0446000; -61.6642000Coordinates: 16°02′40.56″N 61°39′51.12″W / 16.0446000°N 61.6642000°W / 16.0446000; -61.6642000
La Grande Soufrière is located in Guadeloupe
La Grande Soufrière
La Grande Soufrière
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Volcanic arc/beltLesser Antilles Volcanic Arc
Last eruption1977

La Grande Soufrière (French pronunciation: ​[la ɡʁɑ̃d sufʁijɛʁ]; English: "big sulfur outlet"), or simply Soufrière (Antillean Creole: Soufwiyè), is an active stratovolcano on the French island of Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. It is the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles, rising 1,467 m high.[1]

The last magmatic eruption was in 1580±50 during which the current lava dome was emplaced. More recent eruptions have been phreatic in type.[2] On February 8, 1843, an eruption of La Grande Soufrière caused by an earthquake killed over 5,000 people.[3]

Significant seismic activity in 1976 led to a mass evacuation of the island's 72,000 residents.[1] There was a bitter, and well-publicized, controversy between scientists Claude Allègre and Haroun Tazieff on whether evacuation should occur. Allègre held that inhabitants should be evacuated, just in case, while Tazieff held that the Soufrière was harmless. The prefect decided to evacuate, erring on the side of covering his back. The volcano erupted on August 30, 1976, but much less severely than predicted by the Allègre side.[1] There were no fatalities and no significant damage, except for the large cost of the evacuation.[1]

While the island was deserted, the German filmmaker Werner Herzog traveled to the abandoned town of Basse-Terre to find a peasant who had refused to leave his home on the slopes of the volcano. His journey is recorded in the film La Soufrière.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-89577-087-5.
  2. ^ Feuillard M.; Allege C.J.; Brandeis G.; Gaulon R.; Le Mouel J.L.; Mercier J.C.; Pozzi J.P.; Semet M.P. (1983). "The 1975–1977 crisis of La Soufrière de Guadeloupe (F.W.I.): a still-born magmatic eruption". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 16 (3–4): 317–334. doi:10.1016/0377-0273(83)90036-7.
  3. ^ Kozák, Jan; Cermák, Vladimir (2010). "Guadeloupe Earthquake, Antilles, 1843". The Illustrated History of Natural Disasters. p. 163. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-3325-3_38. ISBN 978-90-481-3324-6.