COMMENTARY: Boiling Lake’s episodes of instability (1887-2022) [part II]

Looking down into a non-boiling Boiling Lake on 31st March 2005. Note water colour and marks left on the soft mud by the water as lake was draining in spurts. Photo by A. James


  • December 2004 to April 2005 – A tour guide and his clients visiting the Lake on Christmas Eve 2004 met the Boiling Lake with “almost no water” and not vaporizing. A visit to the lake on 28th December 2004 by three Forestry staff members accompanied by a MARPIN TV cameraman met the lake with very little water which was grey in colour, a large area of grey mud surrounding the pool of water, and two spots which were bubbling very lightly.


Over the next three and a half months, the water level rose significantly then fluctuated, sometimes with dramatic changes in level from one day to the next, and with some interesting colour changes, from grey to turquoise, to olive green, to dark grey, to pale blue, and then to “jet black” when the lake’s level rose again and it began to release heat and vapour again from around 9th April 2005.


The lake did not refill completely immediately with this “reactivation”. On 13th April 2005 the water level was about 3ft below the high-water mark and the water temperature was measured at approximately 60°Centigrade, which was well below the lake’s “normal” boiling temperature of 88°C.

Boiling Lake on 28th December 2004, with almost no water which was not releasing any heat or vapor. Photo by A. James



Boiling Lake on 28th January 2005, with turquoise-coloured water level and only bubbling sporadically. Photo by A. James


Boiling Lake on 13th April 2005, almost completely filled, with black-coloured water, and vaporising but not at full strength. Photo by A. James


  • 27th August 2015 – The water level in the lake as well as the high-water mark drop to a new level, estimated at 3-4 ft below the previous high-water mark, as a result of heavy scouring of the bottom of the lake’s outlet during Tropical Storm Erika.


  • 8th November 2016 to January 2017 – Boiling Lake goes cold again around 8th November 2016, with decreased water levels. A photograph taken of a couple in the lake on 16th November 2016 goes viral. The Office of Disaster Management, the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre and the Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division strongly advised against visiting the lake while it is in such unstable conditions. Lake returned to “normal” activity by January 2017.
Visitors to Boiling Lake on 16th November 2016 having a swim in the lake.
  • November 2021 to February 2022 – From around 17th November 2021 *


  • November 2021 to Current (February 2022) – Boiling Lake entered one of its unstable episodes again. This time the water level dropped and remained below “normal” for a couple of weeks, but was very dark grey to black, but vaporizing relatively heavily. Towards the end of December 2021, the lake refilled and was flowing out even through early January 2022. At the time it was still vaporizing heavily with the water colour almost black.


From a photograph taken of the Lake on Thursday 27th January 2022, the level had dropped dramatically, leaving only a small pool of boiling, dark grey to black-coloured water in the centre. A photo taken on 2nd February 2022 shows the lake still with a very low water level, with dark grey water, but this time it was not vaporizing. And the episode continues and just might reoccur some time in the future.  Note from the above, the number of episodes of instability which occurred in the months of April, and with one ending in an April.

Boiling Lake on 19th November 2021, with reduced water levels but vaporizing heavily.
Boiling Lake on 19th November 2021, with reduced water levels but vaporizing heavily.

The evidence has shown that when Boiling Lake is going through its episodes of instability, it can refill relatively quickly – not necessarily to the level of its high-water mark – have a rapid increase in temperature, and sometimes release toxic gases like what killed the two men in 1901. That said, guides and visitors should heed the call of the authorities about the Boiling Lake during such episodes.

Information obtained from archived newspapers (1901, 1964, 1967), personal accounts (1971, 1988, 2004-2005), articles/notices published Online (2016, 2020, 2021), and copies of old photographs provided by local historian Dr Lennox Honychurch (1887, 1901) and photos from 2021 and 2022 from various sources.


*Editor’s note*The Dominica Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division is reminding the general public that the Boiling Lake is closed unless approved by relevant authorities.

The notice followed a post within the last week on social media which showed photos of visitors bathing in the Boiling Lake.

The public is reminded that these periods of instability can last for weeks to months before normal activity is fully re-established. As this current episode continues, the risk of harmful gases such as Carbon Dioxide and small steam explosions is heightened.

The observed changes at the Boiling Lake are not necessarily related to increased volcanic activity in the area.

The UWI-SRC and the Office of Disaster Management, with support from the Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division, will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.


Click here to View part I

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  1. We the People
    February 17, 2022

    ADMIN, the reference to Erika as August 15 is wrong. Ericka was on August 27

    ADMIN: Thank you for taking the time to let us know. The article has been updated.

  2. February 16, 2022

    Dominica is truly the Nature Isle of the Caribbean.

  3. Rae
    February 15, 2022

    Wow!Really enjoyed this! Good information on how the lake changes with time.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  4. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    February 14, 2022

    Amazing ..I thought the boiling lake was always full Where does the water go and conversely when it fills up where does the water come from ??

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • derp
      February 15, 2022

      When it is high it flows out when it is low it gets evaporated or drains down into the earth there is lava underneath that’s how it boils

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  5. Winston
    February 14, 2022

    Why hasn’t the guide been penalised or even had his operator license suspended. Clearly more interested in a social media moment than in the safety of his custoners, he has instead been enjoying a moment in the spotlight. Why does DDA/ Ministry of Tourism fail to act?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

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