Most Belizeans have been captivated by the unusual smoke that has been rising near the ‘Sleeping Giant’ , which by some accounts has been visible for almost 3 weeks, even after heavy rains in the area. Today (Monday June 21st.) the Department of Geology in the Ministry of Natural Resources issued the following official statement.
Belmopan. June 21, 2021. 12:35 p.m. (GOB Official Statement – PDF Document)
On June 19, 2021, a joint team comprised of geologists and the engineer from the Geology and Petroleum Department, forest rangers from the Forest Department, and guides/cut men from St. Margaret’s Village visited the area near the Sleeping Giant Mountain range that has been emitting plumes of smoke.
The team found no evidence of any geological activity at the site, and none of the gases normally found at geothermal vents or fumaroles were present. Radiation levels were normal.
The Forest Department found the cause or source of the plumes of smoke to be a deep smoldering detritus fire, possibly ignited from a lightning strike at the site, which occurred around June 8, 2021. The area is located on top of a ridge comprised of Paleozoic non-volcanic basement rocks, and is covered by a thick mat of detritus or decaying organic matter and dead trees which are fueling the continuous slow burning or smoldering. At the time of the visit, the area affected was approximately 100 meters long and 40 meters wide. The Forest Department is monitoring this slow burning fire to determine the best course of action.
The ministry thanks the villagers who took the team to the site for their invaluable assistance.