Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Video from El Hierro's Underwater Volcano Released

Video of the actual volcano underwater off the coast of La Restinga, El Hierro in the Canary Islands (Spain) shows a degassing and slowly erupting cone. The video, published by IGN (Institutio Geografico National) shows in very clear water, the surface of the vent degassing. It is the first video published by scientists that clearly shows what is actually happening under water, giving us our fist actual observation of the cone itself.

The eruption at El Hierro was declared over by the government, much to the chagrin of scientists and volcanologists who insist the eruption is not over, merely slow. The government is apparently quite eager to declare the eruption over as tourism has actually suffered, not prospered, during this eruption. Sensationalist news media, and negative press caused the usually booming tourist industry to slow to a crawl, and residents and businesses were forced out of the small fishing town of La Restinga, putting a large dent in their economy.

However this is a dangerous presumption for the government to make. First of all, the eruption is NOT over, and second, giving residents and tourists a false sense of security in regards to the volcano is ill advised. It is still quite possible that other vents can open up, or that activity at the main vent can resume. It is impossible to say, but in most scientists views, the eruption at El Hierro would be over as soon as there are little to no earthquakes and NO harmonic tremor.

The interesting thing about the volcano and the government is the clear attempt to cover up what is actually going on. The webcams have been shut off completely. The webcams were shut off due to "cost concerns" as the provider claimed that they were too expensive. I highly doubt that they are. This apparent "blackout" of information coincides completely with the Spanish government's declaration that El Hierro is now a "green" zone, ie: safe for tourists, boats etc. There is still a very small exclusion zone for commercial boats around the vent, but the port and town are now open.

And even as government officials claim the eruption is at an end, there was a 2.7 magnitude earthquake directly under the erupting vent, and more earthquakes in the El Golfo region (the El Golfo basin is an area that has been highly seismically active, with some scientists wondering whether or not there is another open vent at the bottom, out of reach of our instruments). So with an active and hot cone, earthquakes every day in and around the erupting vent, and now visual confirmation of the vent itself with an underwater camera... one has to ask themselves, who is the Spanish government kidding? 

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