Thursday, December 8, 2011

El Hierro Volcano Displays Surface Activity

I actually stayed up quite late last night gazing at the El Hierro Webcam watching for signs of the eruption on the water surface, and I'm happy to say I was not disappointed. At approximately 8pm PST (no idea off the top of my head what time it was at El Hierro, but it was morning there on the cam), I personally observed strong 'jacuzzi' action on the water surface, and was also fortunate to be able to view several small explosions breach the surface. It appeared from the camera that a few chunks of lava were floating and steaming on the water surface, a good indicator that this eruption is far from over.

News on the eruption has been hard to come by lately, so I'm going to stay up a bit later to try and attempt to capture some good shots of activity on the water's surface via the webcam and post them on this blog. I attempted this last night, but it was difficult to use my screen capturing program (that can get around website attempts at blocking screens) to jive with the timing necessary to get a good, clear shot.

This morning it looks like a research ship is out there checking out the eruption site, probably taking some readings and samples. All commercial vessels have been ordered to stay clear of the eruption area. says "The new IEO oceanographic ship “Cornide de Saavedra” is navigating close to the stain and even on the stain. This is the 4th research vessel from Spanish organizations like IEO and CSIC working on the El Hierro eruption." Hopefully this means that new scientific data, or 3D models of the volcano's shape will be published soon.

The last current news on El Hierro was on Dec 5th, which I posted about earlier. Given that El Hierro is a small island with a small population, it's easy to see why most of the news media has come and gone, probably waiting for the volcano to break the surface in order to boost ratings. But volcanoes and volcanic eruptions aren't exactly 'en vogue' when it comes to the mainstream media, so I have to rely on blogs, and webcam images in order to cobble this story together.

What most of the island residents thought would be a boon to their tourism industry has turned out to be a curse. The evacuation of la Restinga hurt the local economy a bit, and most of their usual tourists (hikers from Europe) have cancelled any plans they had to go to the island. This is unfortunate, because this isn't a dangerous eruption (yet?), and people would be really fortunate to see the birth of a new island in person, you probably would not get that chance again.

The local residents are apparently quite angry with the negative publicity doled out by the BBC, and other news agencies that like to hype up volcanic eruptions. They claim that the "yellow press" is out there scaring people away from the island, and are also angry at their local government for not attempting to boost the tourism factor by promoting the eruption. When Eyjafjallajokull erupted in Iceland in 2010, it was a serious boon to their tourism industry, and boosted their struggling economy a bit. It is easy to see that the islanders have something to be a bit sore about.

Hopefully I will have some nice screen captures in the next post. Right now it appears as if the volcano is content to stay in it's 'jacuzzi' phase, and remain hidden under the water surface. If anything new develops, I will certainly report on it. In the meantime, enjoy the link to the webcam. If you want a very clear view (for all you US folks), I'd suggest hopping on the cam at around 8pm PST (11pm ET) to catch the volcano during the morning, or hopping on early morning (8am PST/11am ET) to get the best view.

****UPDATE**** has some great video of what I witnessed late last evening/early this morning at the El Hierro vent off la Restinga. Check out the video below!

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