Monday, December 23, 2013

El Hierro Seismicity Picks Up

Could the Canary Islands volcano El Hierro be gearing up for round two of its renewed activity? Recent reports from are indicating that magma injection is occurring again at the island. Over the last couple of days over 58 earthquakes concentrated near the site of the offshore eruption have occurred, and uplift of nearly 2cm was detected. This indicates magma is travelling to a shallower level, and could be a precursor to eruption. This however IS speculation, as many magma injections do not lead to an immediate eruption (see Mt Fuji!).

El Hierro volcano was up until recently, a fairly quiet volcanic island, and had not had any eruptions since the late 1700's, but this all changed in 2011 when the island spawned a new submarine cone off its SE coast near the town of La Restinga. Indeed, it was this volcanic eruption that was my initial inspiration for creating this blog, as I was reading tons of information in very bad English. At the time it was my hope to be live-blogging the eruption with footage of a Surtseyan eruption (an eruption that begins as submarine, but ends up creating a new island above water). Alas, we were gifted with a prime example of a Serretyan eruption.

The small eruption of the submarine cone however does not appear to have been the last we will hear from this island in the near future. As new magma enters the system and inflates the island, it is likely that at least at some point a fracture or conduit will form that allows the magma to escape to the surface. Obviously it is everyone's hope that when or if this does occur, people will have all the warning they need to get out of mother nature's way.

The previous eruption lasted for several months, nearly a year, with on and off activity, and waves of speculation as to how the volcano might continue its eruption. In some cases it was theorized that several submarine eruptions had occurred, however this was never conclusively proved.

This is one of my personal favorites in terms of volcanoes, not just because it's partly responsible for this blog int he first place, but because of the fact it was one of the first volcanoes to be observed before, during, and after the eruption from nearly every media angle possible. Seismographs, tilt meters, webcams, bathymetric scans, ROV footage of the plume from underwater, the first live observation of a Serretyan eruption and associated 'lava balloons'... it was really something cool to see for us volcano nerds out there. 

Maybe 2014 will give this blogger another present! Stay tuned!


More recent news is available, please go to

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. See the comment policy for details.