Certain types of volcanoes, such as the one on the British dependency of Montserrat in the West Indies, grow domes of lava at the summit as new magma is forced up from within the earth. Eventually these lava domes become unstable and collapse, resulting in a “pyroclastic flow” of deadly hot rocks and ash, pouring down the mountainside destroying anything in its path.



Pyroclastic Flow destroys city of Plymouth in Montserrat.



The mechanisms for how these domes grow and subsequently collapse are currently not well understood since even basic observations of the lava dome are often limited by cloud, poor weather and, of course, during volcanic eruptions.
The images below highlight the typical viewing conditions, which make viewing volcanic activity difficult with traditional imaging methods.


Cloud obscuring the recent activity on the dome of the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat.



Picture © MVO



Typical observing conditions of the Sourfiere Hills volcano



Picture © MVO