COMMENTARY: Boiling Lake – two episodes of instability in six months?

Boiling Lake on Friday the 13th of May 2022; the lake one week later on the 20th of May

Many of us will remember that social media was boiling hot between November 2021 and early March this year with posts, forwarded photographs and video clips of Dominica’s Boiling Lake which was going through another episode of instability.  The widely circulated photos even included a few of two male visitors enjoying a swim in the Boiling Lake – which was obviously cold at the time.

The phrase ‘episodes of instability’ was borrowed from the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies who had used it in a media statement about the lake during the 2021/2022 episode.

Earlier this year a two-part presentation titled, “Boiling Lake’s Episodes of Instability” which was compiled by this author, was published on Dominica News Online (DNO) on 8th and 14th February respectively. That write-up presented some of the dates/periods of the Boiling Lake having dramatically emptied out, followed by fluctuating water levels and changes in colour, sometimes even going ‘cold’ with water temperatures plunging from a high of upper 80s (degrees Celcius) down to low 20s.

In the presentation the author had noted, “And the (2021/2022) episode continues and just might reoccur some time in the future.”

And so it has come to pass. We were not kept waiting for at least 17 years (e.g. 1971 – 1988) or possibly longer again as the Boiling Lake is going through yet another episode of instability, this one having commenced less than three months after the previous one ended in early March 2022.

On the morning of Friday 13th May 2022, tour guides and their clients visiting Boiling Lake met the latter with reduced water levels, (estimated to be about 8-10ft below the high water mark), boiling vigorously with its vapour cloud, the water’s colour between dark grey and black, and an area of thick, dark grey mud partly encircling the area of boiling water.

The current (May 2022) episode comes six months following the start of the 2021/202 episode which began in November of last year, and only two months after the lake had returned to normalcy in early March this year, albeit temporarily.

It will be observed from the February 2022 presentation on DNO that the period between successive episodes is quite variable. For example, for the previous eight or so episodes that occurred between 1964 and 2021, the amount of time which elapsed between successive episodes is as follows: 3 years (April 1964 – April 1967); 4 years (April 1967 – April 1971); 17 years (April 1971 – April 1988); 16 years 8 months (April 1988 – December 2004); 11 years 11 months (December 2004 – November 2016); and 5 years (November 2016 – November 2021).

Whilst the lake was observed with reduced water levels and not boiling in April and July 1967, it is not certain whether there were two separate episodes that year, or whether the one episode began in April and extended to July (and possibly beyond), as some other observed episodes went on for 2-4 months.

However, we can confirm that the Boiling Lake went through two separate episodes of instability within the space of 6 months between November 2021 and May 2022, with the latter still ongoing at the time of writing.

When will the lake display another episode of instability is anyone’s guess. But more likely than not, it will happen again.

Tour guides and their clients journeying to the Boiling Lake are urged to exercise extreme caution when visiting the lake.

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  1. Odinn
    May 28, 2022

    Research-work and sampling of water and fumes (gas) by the French institutes BGRM and CFG, several years ago, indicated that there are no direct hydrological connections between the geothermal areas in Laudat/Wotten Waven and the geothermal activity in the Valley of desolation (Boiling lake). Drilling in Laudat would thus not have any effect on the Boiling lake, as those two systems are geologically separated. Each system has its own heat source, in the form of an igneous body (magma) seated at several kilometres depth in the crust.

  2. May 26, 2022

    Very interesting indeed; just hope that the drilling of those “geothermal wells within the volcanic areas in Dominica are not responsible for the back to back emptying of our beloved Boiling Lake a real “gem” in such a short space of time.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  3. Jay
    May 25, 2022

    Since they introduced this geothermal project, the boiling lake has been going hay wire. They are doing this especially to blame it on climate change which they themselves are creating. One world order. Order out of chaos.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 16
    • Magway ca
      May 26, 2022

      I’m surrounded by idiots

  4. Jay
    May 25, 2022

    Since they introduced this geothermal project, the boiling lake has been going hay wire. They are doing this especially to blame it on climate change which they themselves are creating. One world order. Order out of chaos.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 15

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