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The keys to the past: a mixed-methods approach to reconstructing the 1812 eruption of La Soufrière St. Vincent

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The usage of a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data and integrating them in creative and compelling ways with a pragmatic underpinning, can provide deep investigations into the impacts of volcanic eruptions on society. The 1812 eruption of La Soufrière volcano on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent was reconstructed with a mixed-methods approach in mind. This eruption occurred during the slavery era where there was a reliance on enslaved labour to cultivate the island’s sugar monoculture. Findings have found that the eruption produced ash fall, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs), volcanic earthquakes and lahars that impacted 129 plantation estates, leading to 43 documented deaths. This eruption also forced the emigration of the indigenous Kalinago and the purchasing of land for displaced enslaved Africans. Lastly, a key aspect of this eruption was that due to estate owners receiving loans, the focus was to “return back to normal” and not to adapt, essentially meaning that the dimensions of vulnerability and risk did not change as a result. Dr Jazmin P. Scarlett is a Historical and Social Volcanologist, researching how people lived in the past and the present with active volcanoes. Previous research has researched the people and volcanoes of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, Germany and Italy. She also has interests in heritage studies, hazard analysis, disaster studies concepts and theories and science communication and outreach pedagogy. Dr Scarlett did her undergraduate in BSc (Hons) Geography and Natural Hazards at Coventry University, MSc Volcanology and Geological Hazards at Lancaster University and PhD in Earth Science at the University of Hull. She has been a visiting researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark, previously a Lecturer in Physical Geography at Newcastle University and is currently working for Queen Mary University of London in Student Support.

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