Montserrat Volcanic Island in Google Earth

Montserrat in Google EarthMontserrat was popularly known as the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” because of its tropical beauty, and because many of the early European settlers were from Ireland. It was home to a music studio built by Beatles star George Martin – the studio was visited by many world famous musicians who came to record in this island paradise. Tourists from around the world enjoyed the tropical island and its pleasant people. Then a terrible thing happened – in 1995, the previous dormant Soufriere Hills volcano became active. Over a period of weeks the main populated areas were evacuated. But, ultimately the volcano destroyed the main populated areas including the capitol of Plymouth on the west coast and the airport on the east coast. Two-thirds of the population were forced to move away from the island and most of the rest were forced to move to the northern part of the island (which was previously mostly uninhabited). The volcano is still active today and the mountain is much larger than it was previously. The southern part of the island is an exclusion zone where only limited access is permitted.
Thanks to the imagery update which Google released yesterday, you can now see the devastation caused by the volcano. Not only that, but Google has updated the terrain as well so you can see that the volcano is now the tallest feature on the island (the mountain to the south was previously tallest). Here is a collection of placemarks showing the volcano, what remains of Plymouth, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and the remains of the airport which is mostly covered in mud and ash.
On a personal note, I visited the island in 2003 while sailing in the Caribbean (read about it here – including pictures). At the time, the volcano was still spewing house-sized flaming boulders down the side of the mountain. We visited the volcano observatory which had just opened. A travelogue of our trip with details viewable in Google Earth can be found here.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. this kind of thing is very interesting….. but is there a way to swap views from the old versions to the updated ones…to see the changes more easily?
    Surely google earth keep their old views in stock…. to be able to see the same place….and the changes which have taken place over the years since it was first added to Google earth would be a great addition….
    my own home here in thailand has had three updates in as many years…and show my old house ….and the new one we built in the latest update.

  2. Google Earth is showing Plymouth as being in the water. I thought the volcano covered it with ash, not lowered it. Probably the image location isn’t quite matching the Label locations.

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