The onset of phreatic volcanic activity at the Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat on 18 July 1995 followed a three-year period of heightened volcano-sesimic activity beneath the island. Phreatic explosions gave way to continuous eruption of juvenile andesitic magma in the form of a lava dome on or around 15 November 1995. Magma production rate has varied, leading to changes in eruptive style. An explosive eruption on 17 September 1996 followed a period of enhanced dome growth and large-scale gravitational collapses from its eastern flank. Increasing dome volume led to stressing and overtopping of the confining crater walls to the southwest, north and west during early 1997. Sustained high magma production rate since June 1997 has led to three periods of major gravitational dome collapses followed by vulcanian explosive eruptions. Dome growth re-started immediately after the cessation of the latest of these explosive phases in October 1997 and continues as of December 1997.