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Montserrat Volcano Observatory
Research Organisation
The Montserrat Volcano Observatory was established soon after the first phreatic eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano on 18th July 1995 and was staffed initially by scientists from a variety of organisations working with local personnel. The scientific teams came mainly from the Seismic Research Unit (SRU) of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and the British Geological Survey (BGS). Valuable assistance was also provided by the Volcanic Disaster Assistance Program of the United States Geological Survey, the University of Puerto Rico, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Guadeloupe Volcano Observatory and Martinique Volcano Observatory) and numerous individual researchers from universities in the U.K. and the U.S.A.

In August 1999 the MVO was designated a statutory authority of the Government of Montserrat (GoM). Overall policy and objectives are determined by a Board of Directors, which is co-chaired by the Governor and the GoM Chief Minister. The Director of the MVO reports to the Board and is Secretary to it. Other Board members currently include a representative from the University of the West Indies, the GoM Financial Secretary, the Head of the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce, a representative from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK Government) and an independent Scientific Adviser (currently Professor Geoff Wadge, Reading University).

Since July 2000, the MVO has been managed by the BGS under a contract with DFID and latterly with GoM. Currently the staff of the MVO consists of four BGS personnel and eight local government employees.

Throughout the eruption, the MVO has been housed in several rented buildings but, in January 2003, the MVO moved to a purpose built Observatory, situated 6 km northwest of the volcano at Flemings in January 2003.

The role of the MVO is to advise the authorities on the volcanic activity and its associated hazards and risks.