Dominica has at least 8 potentially active volcanoes. One of these is Morne aux Diables, an isolated composite cone that forms a peninsula at the extreme northern end of the island. Measuring 7 kilometers diameter at its base and rising to a height of 856 meters, Morne aux Diables (creole language name meaning "Mountain of the Devils") is composed of a central complex of Pelean domes from which lithified block and ash flow deposits radiate out in all directions. A prominent fan of these lithified deposits extends southwest from the main dome complex to the Portsmouth-West Cabrits area. This center is complicated by the presence of five parasitic domes with their flank pyroclastic deposits forming an east-west belt across the southern side of the volcano.

Age dating suggests that the main cone building activity occurred between 1.5 and 1.0 million years ago. Exposed on the volcano's flanks are a number of unconsolidated valley-fill block and ash flow deposits suggesting more recent activity. One of these deposits on the north-east flank of the volcano has been recently dated at ~46,000 years B.P. (before present). Photo of ~26,000 year old charcoal/wood fragment found in pyroclastic deposit on flanks of Morne aux Diables.

A large gap exists between the dates obtained for the main edifice building phase of this volcano and the younger valley-fill deposits. This suggests that Morne aux Diables could be: 1) an extinct center from the age of 2.5 to 1.5 million years that was reactivated during the later Pleistocene; 2) a center with long repose periods; or 3) could simply be an artifact of the paucity of dates from this volcano.

Although there has been no historical eruptions at Morne aux Diables, there is evidence of potential activity from this center. This includes the presence of warm, acidic, sulfate-rich springs on the summit of the volcano, hot springs on the coast and the occurrence of shallow earthquake swarms partially located beneath the volcano, the most recent being 2003 and 2009. Other periods of such increased activity were in 2000, 1893 and 1841.

A prominent feature of Morne aux Diables is the Cold Soufriere, an area of cold spring activity in the northwestern crater. This feature is manifested as several clear to milky bubbling pools covering an area of ~25 square meters with temperatures ranging from 23-32 degrees C. An unmistakably strong Hydrogen Sulfide odour is present and vegetation is absent in the immediate area.

View Geological Map of Morne aux Diables (Smith A.L et al: Unpublished data.) Lindsay, J.M; Smith, A.L; Roobol, M.J; & Stasiuk, M.V. 2005. Dominica. In: Lindsay, J.M., Robertson, R.E.A., Shepherd, J.B., & Ali, S. (eds) 2005. Volcanic Hazard Atlas of the Lesser Antilles - Seismic Research Unit, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, W.I, 1-48.

Main Settlements around Morne aux Diables

Portsmouth, Tanetane, Savanne Paille, Guillet, Toucarie, Cottage, Clifton, Capuchin, La Haut, Penville, Vieille Case, Thibaud, Paix Bouche, Dos D'ane, Bornes

Age Dating from Morne aux Diables (years B.P.)

Location  C Date 
 Enbas, Vieille Case  46,740
 L'autre Bord, Penville  26,000


Recent Activity at Morne aux Diables Volcano

September 6 2009
Beginning the weekend of July 10, residents in the villages on the flanks of Morne aux Diables have been reporting numerous earthquakes which rattle china and on occasions have sent panicked residents into the streets. The quakes are preceded by sound of and explosion. As of today, DPSN has recorded more than 100 of these micro quakes at our seismic station in Portsmouth.

October 21, 2009
Twenty-one earthquakes were recorded overnight. Two were felt in the nearby town of Portsmouth and at least five were felt (and heard) in the village of Savanne Paille on the south-west flank of the volcano.

Fumaroles & Geothermal features associated with Morne aux Diables center.

Cold Soufriere
Toucarie hot springs (along the seashore)
Balvine Fumaroles
Picard Fumaroles including those at Mamies Sulphur Spring
Prince Rupert's Bay submarine vents
Picard River hot areas
Glosho alkaline hot springs (only alkaline spring in Dominica)