Island of El Hierro prepares for potential volcanic eruption

September 26, 2011CANARY ISLANDSThe island of El Hierro in the Spanish Canary Islands is bracing itself for a possible volcanic eruption. Situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are all volcanic, but there has been no volcanic activity on El Hierro since 1793. However, a series of small earthquakes have been registered by sensors in the past two months and a quake of grade 3 on the Richter Scale registered last Thursday have caused the threat of volcanic activity to be raised from green to yellow for the first time in recent history. Saturday produced another stronger tremor of 3.4 on the Richter scale which was felt all over the island. Speaking to the El Pais newspaper, volcanologist, Juan Carlos Carracedo admitted an eruption on El Hierro would not be a major surprise. “It is the youngest of the Canary Islands,” he explained. “There is a ball of magma which is rising to the surface and it is stationed at the limit of the earth’s crust. At the moment we do not know if that ball of magna will break the crust and cause an eruption.” Rather than having one large crater, the volcano on el Hierro consists of around 250 small craters. “Any eruption would form cones on the high zones of the island and lava flows which would flow to the sea, although they would do so at a speed that would be slow enough for the population to be evacuated. It is something that could happen in days, weeks or months,” said Carracedo. El Hierro currently has a population of around 10,000 and regional government officials have begun informing them of evacuation protocols in case the worst should happen. The last volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands took place on the island of La Palma in 1971, while the mainland town of Lorca was devastated by an earthquake of 5.2 on the Richter scale in May this year. –CRI English
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45 Responses to Island of El Hierro prepares for potential volcanic eruption

  1. Melanie Pelton says:

    “A series of small earthquakes”?? Hasn’t there been something like 6000 earthquakes in this region since July? Isn’t it almost constantly rumbling? That’s what I thought….

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    • Constantly, as in several months. El Hierro sits over a magma plume similar to what’s under Yellowstone. Swarms may intensify and then abate, but what you’re looking for is magma movement to the surface and that’s usually characterized in the latter stages by more intense tremors and ground shaking which is the concern.

      Like

  2. radiogirl says:

    What are the possible scenarios of this eruption?Thank You…. for your information…it is most appreciated.

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    • It’s hard to say since it’s a magma plume. It could be profuse lava flow or it could be something monumental. This is really a wait and see…this has been characterized by a massive swarm of tremors that have extended the breadth of the island and even into the sea so no one knows what channels or how wide the magma is carving them below ground as pressure builds. The longer the tremors continue and pressure builds; the more dire the outcome.

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  3. luisport says:

    Taupo volcanic field swarms again.
    Reference Number: 3584906
    NZDT: Sun, Sep 25 2011 9:29 pm
    Magnitude: 3.7
    Depth: 25 km
    Details: 10 km west of Castlepoint
    [View Felt Reports in Google Maps][View event in Google Maps]

    Reference Number: 3584871
    NZDT: Sun, Sep 25 2011 7:48 pm
    Magnitude: 3.1
    Depth: 2 km
    Details: 10 km north-west of Matata
    [View Felt Reports in Google Maps][View event in Google Maps]

    Reference Number: 3584649
    NZDT: Sun, Sep 25 2011 8:31 am
    Magnitude: 2.4
    Depth: 2 km
    Details: 10 km north-west of Matata

    There have been lately lots of shallow earthquakes.

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  4. Pat says:

    @Radiogirl, here’s just one of numerous explanations of possible scenarios you can find on you tube. Very scary! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohNsKV3FYT8

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  5. JerseyCynic says:

    Update September 25, 2011 : Rumors are circulating that a possible eruption of El Hierro volcano would lead to a giant tsunami. Every special effect in nature is translated by some people into wild disaster scenarios. Such a treat is highly unlikely (based on the seismicity mainly below the island). A below sea level eruption is highly unlikely. We are convinced that the Government of the Canary Islands and the scientists of the committee would certainly report such information when a dangerous situation could not be excluded. + Is is far from sure that an eruption would occur, even with more tremors and the current deformation.
    http://earthquake-report.com/2011/09/25/el-hierro-canary-islands-spain-volcanic-risk-alert-increased-to-yellow/

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  6. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    Desde ayer a las 23:36h aproximadamente, cuando volvió a repuntar la actvidad hasta hoy a las 13:11h UTC, llevamos 36 sismos moderados entre los 2.0 y los 2.9 de magnitud, que están liberando casi la misma energía que la noche anterior en la que tuvimos los sismos sentidos. En la gráfica de energias acumuladas desde el 19 de septiembre, se ven los escalones de la “escalera del diablo” perfectamente..(Enrique) http://www.avcan.org/sismica/graficas/G308.jpg?t=1317050896

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  7. Eileen Eichler says:

    Hi All,
    I saw that Taupo has been rumbling again. Bit worrying that, considering that the waters of the lake are warming as well. It is such a big crater!
    And Matata too, small shallow quakes. Add to the fact that Christchurch has not yet stopped shaking, makes it all just a bit worrying.
    I live 20 mins. out of Christchurch, in one of the small country towns, we don’t get the liquefaction, but we do get the shaking.
    Some of these small ones are based near the Alpine Fault, the Lees Valley for instance. I find THAT concerning.
    What do you think Alvin? is the Alpine Fault getting ready to let go? that would be a mag. 8, as I said, a bit concerning.
    Be blessed, and thank you for the info. that you supply, it is invaluable.

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  8. These rumblings are interesting. I don’t know if I believe they will lead to the mega-tsunami “predicted”, but I will be watching. Thank for for keeping us informed Alvin. Surely can’t get this anywhere else.

    Maranatha

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  9. Fillade says:

    It is a comfort to know the Canary Island’s Government and Scientests are confident that this activity will subside. Being in the cross hairs if it dosen’t subside but goes boom, and watching what has happened to Japan from un natural forces is unsetteling.
    There are very powerfull entities capable of innitating this event to a desasterous reality.

    Fillade

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  10. Yamkin says:

    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.6 Depth 12.0 km 27th Sept 2011
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.6 Depth 16.0 km 27th Sept 2011
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.6 Depth 16.0 km 27th Sept 2011
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.9 Depth 15.0 km 27th Sept 2011
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.7 Depth 15.0 km 27th Sept 2011

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  11. Yamkin says:

    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 3.4 Depth 15.0 km 27th Sept 2011

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  12. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    La huella del Sismo en el sismograma de CHIE, impresiona…1099334 27/09/2011 09:32:15 27.6869 -18.0696 15 III 3.5 4 SW FRONTERA.IHI

    http://www.01.ign.es

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  13. luisport says:

    2011-09-27 07:42:08.6
    1hr 23min ago
    27.68 N 18.07 W 16 2.6 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION
    2011-09-27 07:58:22.1
    1hr 06min ago
    27.69 N 18.08 W 16 2.6 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION
    2011-09-27 08:04:05.5
    1hr 01min ago
    27.70 N 18.09 W 15 2.9 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION
    2011-09-27 08:16:28.8
    48min ago
    27.67 N 18.08 W 12 2.6 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION

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  14. luisport says:

    @eruptionsblog Situation worsens at El Hierro. 3,5 event widely felt, 5 events over 2,5 in the last 2 hours. #Volcano http://pic.twitter.com/Z8cfRtzU

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  15. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    En el gráfico de profundidades de los sismos respecto a los últimos 10 dias se puede ver algo que ayer llegando la medianoche, la zona de actividad tuvo un pico hacia arriba hasta los 7km, con una banda de actividad perfectamente visible. Hoy en cambio, el sistema focaliza su actvidad entre los 12 y los 16 km y que los más fuertes están abajo.

    http://www.avcan.org/sismica/graficas/G315.jpg?t=1317121921
    http://www.avcan.org

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  16. Yamkin says:

    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.7 Depth 16.0 km ***MULTIPLE SWARM ONGOING***
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.5 Depth 15.0 km ***MULTIPLE SWARM ONGOING***
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.5 Depth 15.0 km ***MULTIPLE SWARM ONGOING***
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.5 Depth 10.0 km ***MULTIPLE SWARM ONGOING***

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  17. Yamkin says:

    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.5 Depth 15.0 km
    CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION Magnitude 2.5 Depth 15.0 km

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  18. David says:

    Quite a swarm going on – magma on the move ?
    http://www.emsc-csem.org/Earthquake/ whats going on in Crete?

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    • truth_seeker says:

      Crete has been increasingly active for a week or so now. As has the whole region surrounding it. What most people don’t realise is that there is a subduction zone that has caused huge events in the past. Keep watching it carefully and hopefully it will settle.

      Like

  19. Yamkin says:

    It appears Canary Islands is under going tremendous quake swarms, so instead of me posting loads more, I’ll wait for Extinction Protocol to write an update.

    Like

  20. Josh says:

    Could the effects of El Hierro make The La Palma Tsunami a possibility?

    Like

  21. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    El meneo recien sentido y su huella 1099578 27/09/2011 14:38:48 27.5938 -17.9858 11 Sentido 3.6 mbLg S FRONTERA.IHI

    http://www.01.ign.es
    .

    Like

  22. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    ‎1099600 27/09/2011 15:44:14 27.6782 -18.0783 17 Sentido 3.8 mbLg SW FRONTERA.IHI (Enrique)

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  23. luisport says:

    1099628 27/09/2011 17:02:59 27.6849 -18.0552 14 3.4 mbLg SW FRONTERA.IHI

    Like

  24. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    http://www.diariodeavisos.com/2011/09/27/actualidad/nuevos-movimientos-de-38-y-36-grados-en-el-hierro
    Aumentan en las últimas horas el número y la intensidad de los temblores en El Hierro
    http://www.diariodeavisos.com
    Dos nuevos temblores han sido sentidos por la población esta tarde de 3,8 y 3,5 grados en la escala Richter, respectivamente. Así, este martes ha aumentado la intensidad y el número de movimientos según los datos del Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN)..

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  25. yamkin says:

    300 people evacuated in El Hierro by earthquakes

    About 300 people have been evacuated from their homes on Tuesday in the island of El Hierro in a preventive manner for fear of occurrence of landslides associated with earthquakes of the last days and the expected overnight, when the intensity is estimated to increase .

    Civil Protection has also prepared a plan to evacuate 4,000 people in case it was necessary in four hours. This has contacted shipping companies and airlines serving the islands to use their ships in case of eruption.

    In addition to the distress of neighbors for fear of an eruption, tremors have had another effect. Among the equipment to measure earthquakes is GPS have found that the island “has swelled about four inches.” With the rise of magma in the subsurface, land, have, it expands.
    http://www.libertaddigital.com/sociedad/2011-09-27/temor-ante-una-posible-erupcion-en-el-hierro-6-sismos-en-menos-de-un-dia-1276436523/

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  26. Myke says:

    30 small quakes today so far

    Like

  27. Dave says:

    Yesterday the area had 39 earthquakes – over 100 times the daily average measured over the last 13 months.. and the rumblings continue… The effect – well worst case scenario, is potentially devastating. There is a huge fault in the middle of the island. If the volcano disrupts this fault the ensuing landslide is predicted to create a mega-tsunami which will head across the Atlantic to the Eastern seaboard of the US and a smaller wave up towards the UK and coastline of Spain and France.. I really hope this is not the case but it is a possibility that you should be aware of..

    Like

  28. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    La actividad se refleja en todas las estaciones del IGN en Canarias, incluso Fuerteventura. Tranquilidad, las previsiones de los equipos científicos indican que los seísmos que se están produciendo en la isla van a aumentar en intensidad y frecuencia a partir de esta medianoche, aunque el semáforo de riesgo volcánico sigue en nivel amarillo y no se espera una erupción inminente
    Instituto Geográfico Nacional
    http://www.ign.es

    Like

  29. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    Epicentro promedio ponderando en función de la energía liberada de los eventos sísmicos ocurridos desde el día 20 al 28 de septiembre (exclusivamente). Se observa que tal “epicentro ponderado” se sitúa ahora en el mar, más al sur del Julán, con respecto a los anteriores “epicentros ponderados” presentados. Por otra parte se presentan los hipocentros respecto a un “El Hierro virtual” situado a 30 Km de altitud. (20-28 de septiembre)

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  30. luisport says:

    Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias (AVCAN)
    En opinión, de Joan Martí, todo apunta a que el proceso se está acelerando, y por eso considera que los dos próximos días serán determinantes para saber si habrá erupción o no y de qué tipo.

    “La sismicidad es muy continuada pero se registra a una profundidad muy grande, entre 12 y 14 kilómetros de la superficie. A esa profundidad hay magma, roca fundida, pero que no asciende. En el momento que este magma subiera metros, habría que estar más pendiente”, añadió.

    Joan Martí también descartó que se produzca un gran terremoto o un tsunami si finalmente hay erupción volcánica, ya que “la sismicidad no está afectando al mar”.

    El hierro. “los dos próximos días serán críticos”, según el vulcanólogo joan martí – EcoDiario.es
    ecodiario.eleconomista.es
    MADRID, 28 (SERVIMEDIA)’Los dos próximos días serán críticos en El Hierro para saber que ocurrirá, si la situación de pequeños terremotos se prolonga durante meses o estos cesan’, según declaró hoy a Servimedia Joan Martí, profesor de investigación, especialista en vulcanología, del Consejo Superior…..

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  31. luisport says:

    You can monitor the earthquakes here, refresh to update, it updates sometimes once an hour and sometimes a couple of times per hour. You can click on the individual hour lines to get a detailed 60 min view. Just change the date in the URL each day :

    http://www.02.ign.es/ign/head/volcaSenalesAnterioresDia.do?nombreFichero=CHIE_2011-09-28&estacion=CHIE&Anio=2011&Mes=09&Dia=28#

    This link is for accumilated energy release, it updates every day I think :

    http://www.avcan.org/sismica/graficas/G338.jpg?t=1317210538

    This link shows the depths of the earthquakes over time, I think it updates every 30 mins, refresh to update :

    http://www.avcan.org/sismica/graficas/G336.jpg?t=1317203938

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  32. Stefanie says:

    would an eruption affect the other canary islands?

    Like

  33. Annemarie says:

    As the earthquakes intensify (3.7 this morning) Is there any expected timeline of how far off an erruption could be? I know it can’t be predicted, but based on other erruptions around the world, would it be expected to be in a week, or more like a month?

    Like

    • It’s impossible to fully predict Annemarie. I think the seismic data points to magma rising but when it will breach the suface is still a guess. About all we know is the earthquakes are intensifying in frequency and magnitude in this latest swarm. The problem with magma plume eruptions is it could be a sustained eruption that could last for months. We may likely see a series of strong earthquakes in the 4 to 5.0 range in a swarm before an eruption. We may see something in the next few days or weeks. The sooner, the better because the longer an eruption is delayed, with this many tremors, the more changes there are that magmatic pressures and gases are been primed for a potentially explosive depressurization.

      Like

  34. Helen says:

    We live on Tenerife and see El Hierro from our terrace. Tonight we had a lot of lightening on top of area of El Hierro. It is wired, dark and dry, also the rest of the sky are clear. The lightening stroke every 2 minutes or so. Now it seems it slowed down. Any ideas what it may mean?

    Like

  35. Debbie says:

    Dear “The Extinction Protocol”,

    I have been thinking of moving to Tenerife. Teide however worries me. They say the last eruption was in 1909, with them occurring every 100 years… I can not seem to find out any evacuation plans. The town I decided on is 110km away from the volcano (on the coast), called “Los Cristianos”. My question is this… should it blow, what would the impact be? In NZ they are able to predict the path the lava would flow etc… Is there any information regarding this specific volcano I could research? Thank you so much.

    Like

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