Underwater eruption taking place off the coast of El Hierro

October 10, 2011CANARY ISLANDS – A submarine volcanic eruption is taking place approximately 5 kilometers off the southern coast of El Hierro, the smallest of The Canary Islands. The Mayor of La Frontera (El Hierro), David Cabrera, confirmed in an interview on Radio iron Garoé that ‘underwater eruption’ is taking place about 900 meters beneath the sea surface five kilometers south of La Restinga. The eruption has been ongoing for four hours, the Mayor said. Spanish newspaper laopionion.es quoted the Minister of emergencies of the Cabildo of El Hierro, Maria of Carmen Morales, as saying the eruption is taking place because ‘the seismic movement of 4.3 occurred on Saturday afternoon caused a fissure, from where the energy is been released’. Scientists remain unclear if the emissions are gas or lava. Reports near the vicinity tell of changes in the sea and waves. A meeting of PEVOLCA – Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias, comprising representatives of Instituto Geografico Nacional (IGN) and The Canary Islands Government, is presently taking place on the Spanish Island. Meanwhile, La Agencia Estatal (CSIC) scientists equipped with special detection cameras have been making numerous sorties over coastal areas of El Hierro in an attempt to verify the existence and scale of the underwater eruption. This is Spain’s first volcanic eruption since 1971 when the erupted of the Teneguía volcano on the island of La Palma (Canary Islands), located to the north of El Hierro. Initial reports of the eruption were received from crews on board four separate ships. On Monday afternoon, Terra Noticias/Agencia EFE reported that an eruption occurred 2000 meters below sea level in the Las Calmas sea at 10.43 local time (05:43 EDT). Spanish newspaper El Mundo placed the depth of the eruption at 13oo meters. local media agency Canarias7 reported on Monday that Government authorities have suspended ferry activities to and from the 285 square-kilometer island. English language newspaper islandconnections.eu reported: “The maritime chief for the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife Antonio Padrón has issued a recommendation that boats should not sail closer than four miles off El Hierro. Divers have also been told to suspend all activities. -IWO
contribution Luisport
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57 Responses to Underwater eruption taking place off the coast of El Hierro

  1. radiogirl says:

    Now that this is erupting through what I guess is a newly formed fissure under the ocean….what is the prognosis for the Canary Islands and beyond? As always thank you for keeping us informed, R

    • Indeterminte Radiogirl. The magma for now is seeping out of a submarine fissure in the giant mountain of what we know as El Hierro sits on. At this point, it’s unclear if its deconstucting one island or moving to ignite the volcanoes on another…Stay tuned and you’re welcome.

  2. luisport says:

    IMPORTANT UPDATE 14:31 UTC : PEVOLCA has just published a Press Statement that it is still unsure that an eruption is going on in the Las Calmas Sea. Scientists of IGN which make part of the PEVOLCA committee have stated that IGN has recorded the emission of volcanic gases at the south side of the island. The committee stresses that the gases are NOT dangerous for the population.
    Additionally IGN reported that the emission might also be an eruptive phase but at the present time there is no 100% proof for it. A certainty however, IGN reported, is that “purely volcanic harmonic tremors” have started.
    At 7 PM (19:00) local time later today, a new report will be published with the latest results and conclusions of the scientists.

    http://earthquake-report.com/2011/09/25/el-hierro-canary-islands-spain-volcanic-risk-alert-increased-to-yellow/

  3. SteganosV says:

    Is this considered a mud volcano or does depth have a lot to do with categorization?

    upward & onward

    • It’s a magma plume. Magma plumes are lava tunnels that go straight from mantle to surface. That’s what created the Hawaiian islands and that’s what’s under Yellowstone. Every time the tectonic plate slides over the magma plume- it punches up another new island through a violent volcanic eruption. El Hierro was the last island created by this process in the Canary chain. The source of the magma is powerful and almost endless. We will have to see how this progresses…

      • Güasimara says:

        Not really the situation on the canary island. Fact is no one really knows how the islands came to be, there are all sorts of theories but tectonic plates idea is a no go since the archipelago is right in the middle of the african plate, far away from the border.

      • There are about 5 theories for the formation of the islands but magma plumes can still occur intraplate like Yellowstone which is also far away from the border. And the North American plate movements have been linked to Yellowtone eruptions or punching holes through the NA plate in past eruptions. Orogeny also forms near plate boundaries when the crust is folded but the Rocky Mountains are another unexplainable exception. Long Valley at Mammoth Mnt. is another magma plume not found on a plate boundary. The point is, no one knows what the Earth is capable of…or how it will react.

        http://www.mantleplumes.org/Canary.html

  4. Yamkin says:

    I also believe that the La Palma section has been heating up.
    La Palma is a major concern because if the volcano continues to heat up, there is a very strong possibility it will set off a Mega Tsunami which would wipe out the whole of the Eastern USA coastline, Caribbean Islands and neighbouring lands. To couple this, parts of North Africa, Europe, Ireland and the (UK (S/SW/SE)) will also be affected.

    • nancy says:

      I’ve been watching the Canary Islands for some time now out of concern that La Palma’s Cumbre Viejo (spelling) volcano could erupt again with all the increased siesmic activity in the area. As a resident of the East Coast, the possibility of an eruption and subsequent mega tsunami is frightening to say the least. I’m so glad to have Dr. Alvin’s site to keep us informed!

  5. YiShai HaNotzri says:

    Is this the same island chain that has possibility of landslide/tsunami that could affect east coast of america? Watched a show not too long ago that warned of this danger…blessings to all truth seekers!

  6. luisport says:

    Nau Farray http://www.avcan.org/index.php?m=Catalogo&a=gramas&estacion=CHIE&fecha=10-10-2011&tipo=1 la última línea del tremor es alucinante, cada vez más grande.

  7. Fascinating. I had to pull up a map of El Hierro to just where La Restinga is located. I wonder if this will just add land onto the island, since it appears to be close enough, or if it will create an entirely new island. Of course there could just be violent explosions and I have a feeling that won’t be good for anyone living on the Southern portion of El Hierro. I’m just thankful it’s on the opposite side of the island and isn’t near La Palma.

    Thank you for keeping us updated on El Hierro and the other volcanoes.

    Maranatha

  8. luisport says:

    Jón Frímann says:
    October 10, 2011 at 17:54
    For those how where wondering. The harmonic tremor in El Hierro is getting stronger. This happens now every 1:30 hours or so it seems. From 2 hours as it was before.

    A eruption does not seems to have started. I think. But magma is clearly on the way up to the surface.

    • Paula says:

      Hi Luisport and Alvin,

      Do you know what effect the magma release could have on the local population?
      Thank you for all the info!

      • For now an evacuation…let’s see how things progress from here. So far most of the activity has been confined to the marine environment with a few notable exceptions other than surface inflation.

    • GeorgeF. says:

      Just an uneducated guess – what about magma degassing as it is rising towards the surface, gases escaping through the fissure created by EQ? There was a fishkill reported in place if I’m not mistaken? That might support gas eruption option…

  9. luisport says:

    Leonor Padron Gonzalez la 1 noticias tambien confirman la erupción
    há 2 minutos · Traduzir.Juan Carlos Moll Garcia Atencion cuatro dice que esta saliendo lava i peces muertos i que por el mar se veen bombas de fuego ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡ esto ya es intolerante de verdad ¡¡¡¡
    há cerca de um minuto · Traduzir.

  10. luisport says:

    39 Mins Ago
    Jon Frimann Jonsson RE: El Hierro

    This is most interesting case. But what seems to be going on, from what I can tell. Is that magma is rising up the surface. A eruption does not seems to have started yet. At least it cannot be found for sure. It might well be that the magma is travelling old magma conduct that was empty (caves?), that might explain the lack of earthquakes.

    Given the current increase in tremor and possible depth, I would expect first signs of the eruption to be in 3 to 6 hour time. But it might be longer however, as this landscape in the ground might change the speed of the magma.

  11. luisport says:

    @eruptionsblog reports about batches of dead fish appearing in Southern El Hierro. Waiting for confirmation. Tremor still strong
    9 minutes ago

    teideano teideano
    @
    @pabloj_gonzalez terrible signal, what leads me to think that if the eruption is ongoing is not so small….
    1 hour ago
    »

    teideano teideano
    @
    @pabloj_gonzalez @eruptionsblog and i do believe so, there´s a new situation for them, tremor is more complex than anyone may think.
    http://twitter.com/#!/teideano

  12. luisport says:

    Mount Teide is venting now in Tenerife!

  13. Suzanne says:

    Alvin,
    Is a landslide mentioned in all these mega tsunami videos possible? And if so could it happen without an eruption considering the magma movement under the rock?
    And finally (sorry for being captin question mark) if that is the case there does not seem to be any real concern from the media, over here anyway…..wonder why? Thanks as always for your knowledgable insight. I do appreciate it.
    God Bless,
    Suzanne

  14. luisport says:

    Special report: Eruption at El Hierro volcano, Canary Islands
    Posted on October 10, 2011 by Jón Frímann
    At 04:18 UTC on 10 October, 2011 a eruption did start somewhere close to the El Hierro volcano Island (but inside El Hierro volcano system). So far nothing has been seen to this eruption, so location is uncertain at the moment. At the moment this eruption has only been confirmed by harmonic tremors seen on seismometers on El Hierro island.

    From what I can tell, based on the harmonic tremor plots. It seems that the eruption has been growing in size since it started well over 12 hours ago. This suggests that the eruption is growing in size. That also brings up the issue that new fissures might open, both into deeper ocean and on shallower depth and even on land without any warning at all.

    Lack of earthquakes does not mean that magma is not the move and has not reached the surface already. But this however suggests that magma now has a free flow upwards to the surface since sometimes yesterday, when the earthquake activity did drop suddenly from ~100 earthquakes to ~30 earthquakes over the day.

    Current earthquake activity in El Hierro. It is my personal opinion that the eruption is around -18.05 and 27.65 to 27.70 (middle of that area, around 450 meter depth). Instituto Geográfico Nacional.
    I am going to update this blog post as more is known about the eruption in El Hierro.

    http://www.jonfr.com/volcano/?p=1609

  15. Michele B says:

    Eruption – latest
    El Hierro – 10.10.2011 – The presidento of the El Hierro Cabildo Alpidio Armas, has confirmed the eruption taking place off the coast of the island, five miles from Restinga, and called the news “excellent” becuuse it reduces significantly the build up of seismic energy on the island itself in recent weeks.

    Hi Alvin, Luisport. Could you comment on the above (quoted from islandconnections.eu)? That doesn’t sound right to me, but I am no expert. Thanks!

  16. Tomwe says:

    Been trying to figure out of El Hierro is in danger of a tsunami-producing landslide? Isn’t it La Palma or Tenerife we have to worry about?

  17. Dan says:

    Mount St Helens and Monserat both “went quiet”, just prior to the “main event”…. Let us not forget what we’ve learned from past experiences….

    Re: the guy saying “this is a good thing this is happening offshore, instead of on the island itself”….. I would advise caution…. A massive underwater eruption could cause a tsunami that could quite possibly be much worse than the volcano…. Only time will tell, but Murphy’s law tells us to mind our p’s and q’s….

  18. RainMan says:

    Not good for Nemo and friends.

  19. luisport says:

    Useful summary of Canary Islands ‘hot spot’
    http://www.mantleplumes.org/Canary.html

  20. luisport says:

    Reply
    Diana Barnes says:
    October 11, 2011 at 08:27
    I agree Renato. This looks frighteningly agressive. If it is submarine then a Surtsey – like eruption may be on the cards. Here is a quick reminder of Surtsey’s birth pangs way back in 1963

    I hope to goodness it is not as spectacular!

    Maybe something more like this may be on the cards depending on how shallow the sea is at the vent size.

    http://www.jonfr.com/volcano/?p=1609

  21. luisport says:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=176737869075636

    Video of constant shaking on El Hierro.. so that pretty much confirms the low rumble/shake reported on twitter

  22. luisport says:

    Patrick says:
    October 11, 2011 at 13:08
    http://www.ign.es/ign/head/volcaSenalesAnterioresDia.do?nombreFichero=CHIE_2011-10-11&ver=s&estacion=CHIE&Anio=2011&Mes=10&Dia=11&tipo=1
    Clipping starts here now also i think!

    Reply
    Daniel_swe says:
    October 11, 2011 at 13:12
    Indeed. And if you look at both the spectrogram chart and this tremorchart you can clearly see that the graphs are beeing saturated. I.e the “noise” is higher than the scale and gets cut.

    But that we can determine that the tremors are actually larger than what is shown on the charts.

  23. luisport says:

    teideano teideano
    @eruptionsblog Evacuation under way in El Hierro, evacuation under way in El Hierro. Magma migration should be inland.
    há 1 minuto

  24. luisport says:

    From AVCAN FaceBook page (Spanish text & Giggle version in English):

    3 hours ago:
    New situation: While CHIE seismogram is completely illegible, the spectrogram is showing signs of microseismicity (vertical yellow lines), accompanying the major tremor and may be attributable to the fragmentation of the subsurface (either submarine or terrestrial) the magma moves and fracture. We do not know if they are being located or locating these events are background noise and the S / N (signal / noise), but we recommend that you be attentive to information that can be facilitated by the authorities (JR).

    URGENT
    14:17 In the evolution of the earthquake that affected the island of El Hierro, and as a preventive measure are being taken to the displacement of the population of La Restinga to the meeting point set in the civil protection plan in the field located football, taking into account the possibility that the migration of eruptive focus approaches the coast, to the Government of the Canaries in a statement.
    (from Canarias7)

  25. luisport says:

    Jón Frímann Jónsson Given the current tremor. People should expect a new vents to open up. This might be closer to the vents that are already open and erupting. But the current harmonic tremor suggest that the flow of magma up is greater then the output of the vent that is currently in place (even if not observed). Please note that this is based on my own estimate and might not work out like in a actual events.
    há 22 minutos ·

  26. Raven says:

    The president of the Cabildo de El Hierro, Alpidio Armas, has confirmed to Radio Onda Cero that the light Teide alert level has been raised to red.

    The Canary Islands government has reported that, in the evolution of the earthquake that affected the island of El Hierro, and as a preventive measure are being taken to the displacement of the population of La Restinga, about 600 people at a meeting set in the civil protection plan located on the football field, taking into account the possibility that the migration of eruptive focus approaches the coast.

    The Director General of Security and Emergency will appear before the media at the facilities of El Hierro Valverde CECOI at 15:00.

    http://www.diariodeavisos.com/2011/10/11/actualidad/el-gobierno-de-canarias-evacua-la-restinga

  27. luisport says:

    Lurking says:
    October 11, 2011 at 14:58
    @#$ couldn’t get out the door without doing a plot.

    This is a REPRESENTATIVE profile if the area south of La Restinga taken from a slice through the terrain data. It’s not the actual terrain, but shows about what it’s like.

    You can infer old scarp faces from the profile. My guess is that the magma will travel to the surface along one of these boundaries.

    http://i56.tinypic.com/v2tvyp.png

  28. It could have done more damage if the eruption occurred in another place. It’s still not good, but better that way though.

    • Motoko1315 says:

      I don’t know how to read this chart and am concerned as to whether the El Hierro situation can/could/would affect La Palma – as I live on the eastern sea board of the US.

  29. luisport says:

    Canaries News
    @canariesnews Canaries News
    Epicenter of activity shifs toward the center of El Hierro. IGN expects higher intensity quakes, between 4 & 5 degrees.

  30. Dave says:

    The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. (Rev 8:8)

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