Geologic events take worrisome turn on Canary’s El Hierro Island

October 13, 2011CANARY ISLANDSThese are some of the first images of the sea surface off the coast of La Restinga, near El Hierro. Residents of El Hierro have been observing the formation of ‘green patches’ on the sea surface, some 1 and a half miles from land, which appears to be growing in size at a rapid pace since this morning. There is also a strong smell of sulfur in the air and reports of schools of dead fish have been found near the eruption site. In the meantime, tremors continue on the island of El Hierro. Though tremor intensity has quelled- volcanic activity continues bubbling under the island and ocean. This could perhaps be volcanic fissures that erupted in the ocean along the pathway to vent some of the magma and gases that are rumbling under the island. It may be only a small leak in the pipe and nothing more. Magma plumes are large unpredictable volcanic features that punch holes in the earth’s crust as tectonic plates are jostled over them. It remains to be seen what develops next from all this seismic activity. In the ocean- such magma plumes create islands. According to reports in the Canaries News, (source of the Twitter feed) the specialists and researchers working from the La Restinga area of El Hierro have confirmed that there is clear evidence of two underwater eruptions which have pushed magma up to the surface of the water.
Seismic tremors expanding: We’re waiting to see if new land will rise up in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic unrest has also been reported at the neighboring mantle plume of the Azores- perhaps another indication that this may only be the beginning of what could be a volcanic overturn in the Atlantic. We know the rifting of the African tectonic plate along the Eastern Valley Rift has accelerated and a volcanic eruption occurred in Eritrea at Nabro earlier this year in June. Seimic swarms erupted on El Hierro a month later. The eruption of Nabro in Eritrea was preceded by a large earthquake swarm in the Gulf of Aden in November of 2010. This was Nabro’s first volcanic eruption in recorded history so we know the African plate is stressed and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs through Iceland, has also seen more earthquakes. And if things couldn’t get any stranger and one more indication of how large the plume is under El Hierro, a new earthquake has been detected, this time to the north-east of the island. (See picture) Until now, all the earthquakes have been located to the south coast. It took place at 05:10:36 (local time) and registered 1.7 on the Richter scale.The Extinction Protocol, excerpts Canaries News, twitter feed
contribution Luisport
This entry was posted in Acquatic Ecosystem crash, Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Environmental Threat, High-risk potential hazard zone, Lithosphere collapse & fisssure, Potential Earthchange hotspot, Seismic tremors, Volcanic Eruption, Volcano Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Geologic events take worrisome turn on Canary’s El Hierro Island

    • nickk0 says:

      Interesting video.

      It appears that the ocean water is ‘steaming’.
      I assume this is either from heat, OR perhaps from methane hydrate deposits which have been ‘disturbed’.

      – Nick


      • the geologist says:

        No the reason why the ocean was steaming is simple physics – heat applied to a liquid raises the temperature and as the eruption was releasing thermal energy fromthe erupting magma it heated the water which then being buoyant rose and released that energy as steam. The magma had a temperature of about 1100 deg Celsius which is about 2012 deg F. Incidentally there are no known deposits of gas hydrates in the vicinity of the Canary Islands.


  1. SheilaS says:

    Can you explain why this new development is worrisome? Is it more worrisome than what was happening before?


  2. Tomwe says:

    Looks like a new island is being born.


  3. Mike says:

    Thanks for posting about this! Our quake watch group has been watching all the small quakes, and I even called the Eritrea volcano, as I had seen the quakes and was looking at the terrain.. Then a day or two later they thought it was another volcano, but it was confirmed as Nabro. This is amazing science and we are all doing groundbreaking work here! Keep it up.


  4. luisport says:

    UPDATE 4:00 PM EDT: A little more information (spanish) on the potential for propagation of the vents for the eruption. Ramon Ortiz of the CSIC says that the fissure might propagate closer to the coast with time, but there is no danger until the rift is under 50-60 meters of seawater, rather than the ~200 meters of the shallowest part now. At 50-60 meters, the chances of explosive eruptions increases as the seawater and magma interact in shallower conditions.


  5. luisport says:

    Update on the Submarine Eruptions at El Hierro
    By Erik Klemetti October 13, 2011 | 10:08 am | Categories: Eruptions, Science Blogs Well, its been a busy week (to say the least). We’re all trying to get onto the new schedule around here, so hopefully I can start back with some regular posts as the next few weeks progress (and I apologize if my prose is a little messy, I’m still in a bit of fog). Today’s post going to be rather short and matter-of-fact after I try to catch up with all the events off of El Hierro – and thank you to everyone for 387 comments as of 9 AM EDT today – heck, this blog stays lively even without me. So, I’ll try to run down some of the tidbits I’ve read/seen from El Hierro and other eruptions around the world. Sorry, no “Volcanoes from Space” (thanks for all the name suggestions for it as well – I’m still trying to pick the best) this week, so if you want to check out all the volcanic highlights from this week, head over to the Smithsonian/USGS Global Volcanism Program Weekly Volcanic Activity Report.

    Staining on the sea surface due to two small eruptions seen just south of El Hierro in the Canary Islands on October 12, 2011.
    I think we’re all aware of the new eruption off of El Hierro in the Canary Islands – the first eruption in the Canaries in 40 years and the first at El Hierro in possibly 2500 years. After months of preamble, it now looks like two eruptions occurred, both submarine, in depths of a few hundred meters. Now, I read a lot about what we might have expected from El Hierro, and I don’t remember coming across anyone saying that they expected a submarine eruption, but with these oceanic hotspots, it is definitely not a surprise. My guess is that the eruption(s) themselves look structurally very similar to the Kamoamoa Fissure from earlier this year at Kilauea. However, due to their submarine location, one might expect more sheet and pillow lavas and a lot of fragmented basaltic glass from the rapid quenching of the erupting lava by seawater. We won’t know for sure until a submersible can be sent to look at the area. So far, the only physical evidence (video) of these eruptions are two stains on the sea surface (see above), dead fish and a strong odor of sulfur. I did take a look and the discoloration from the eruption shows up on some of the Terra satellite images taken today (October 13), so you can get a sense of the extend of this discoloration (see below) – it looks like it stretches ~15 km off the southern tip of El Hierro. Based on the location of the plume, it pretty clearly looks like an extension of volcanism off the southern tip of the islands, part of the “rift volcanism” off of El Empalizada.

    Terra true color image of part of Canary Islands, taken on October 13, 2011. The discoloration south of El Hierro is due to two small submarine eruptions. Image data courtesy of NASA.
    If the eruption continues, one might expect Surtseyan style volcanism as the vent nears the surface and maybe even small, ephemeral islands. There isn’t any indication of exactly how these events will unfold and earthquakes are continues at depth under El Hierro, although the tremor has subsided and the eruption seems to have eased. Out of an abundance of caution, the government of the Canary Islands is continuing to evacuate people on the south coast of El Hierro, with now over 600 people evacuated.

    UPDATE 5:00 PM EDT: Nice video of the plume from the El Hierro eruption in the Atlantic – you can clearly see just how close to shore the vents are.

    UPDATE 4:00 PM EDT: A little more information (spanish) on the potential for propagation of the vents for the eruption. Ramon Ortiz of the CSIC says that the fissure might propagate closer to the coast with time, but there is no danger until the rift is under 50-60 meters of seawater, rather than the ~200 meters of the shallowest part now. At 50-60 meters, the chances of explosive eruptions increases as the seawater and magma interact in shallower conditions. {Thanks to Eruptions reader Diana for this link.}

    UPDATE 1:15 PM EDT: Looks like the reports of new spots on the ocean may be incorrect – Canaries government deny claim, say spots same as the one’s yesterday.

    UPDATE 12:15 PM EDT: News via twitter has unconfirmed reports of new spots seen at sea. No word on their size or whether they are near/far from shore. More details as I get them.


  6. luisport says:

    The CSIC clarifies that new magma spots are leaving for other parts of the fissure
    Thursday, October 13, 2011 19:11 acnpress

    Ramon Ortiz of the Technical Centre for Scientific Research (CSIC) has clarified that the new spots during the evening have been appearing nearer and nearer the coast of La Restinga, and are associated with magma output from other parts of the same fissure that opened up during the past days.
    Thus, although at first there was talk of new fissures, Ortiz said that what happens is that “there is a gap of several kilometers and magma comes out one way or the other.” Ortiz appeared next to the Director General of Security and Emergency of the Canary Islands, Juan Manuel Santana, members of the direction of the Civil Protection Plan for Volcanic Risk (Pevolca).

    Santana explained that, for now, “we maintain the protection measures that have been decided: red light in La Restinga and yellow for the rest of the island.” In addition, the responsible person from the autonomous region for managing the seismo-volcanic crisis announced that, for now, they won’t going to open the tunnel of Los Roquilles, as requested by both the council and the municipalities of the Island “Our obligation is the safety of people and we will not give priority to another set of criteria, ” he said.

    With respect to the spots that were observed this afternoon from La Restinga, where magma appeared to come out again in a straight line towards the east, closer and closer to the coast, Ortiz said that this phenomenon is known as the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, with which “instead of always appearing from the same spot, it now comes from one place and then from another.”

    The scientist of the CSIF explained that all possibilities are open about what might happen with the fissure. “If you go into deeper waters you will not see anything,” and that beyond the 500 m depth, the water pressure prevents the release of anything. As there is a stain, Ortiz dares to estimate that the crack must be at a depth of 200 meters, since the staining that was observed has to be coming from a place that is between 150 and 500 meters.

    “The moment the magma rises more and would have only 40 or 60 meters water above, then that would be in the most dangerous moment in which we already would see many explosions,” he added.

    The scientific presence in the area to study the evolution of the phenomenon will continue 24 hours a day “with instrumental and visual surveillance to detect if signs are starting to show that indicate that the magma is very cliose to the surface,” Ortiz said.


  7. yamkin says:

    16 Quake Swarms today Magnitudes 1.5 – 2.1 Depths 12 – 30 km


  8. Luca says:

    My seatbelt is so tight I can’t breathe. Everything is happening so fast. Whew!


  9. Theresa says:

    I am not expert, but you can clearly see that it is cutting through the south-west corner of the island itself. I suspect that is where the landslide will occur.


  10. Jake says:

    If this thing blows it’s top, what are the chances it might cause the sinking of the 100 trillion tons of rock? Was it cumbre viejo? I’ve read about computer models projecting A mile high tsunami


  11. Fillade says:

    Hello Alvin, I reside on LINY, I have sent two emails to NYC Police Commissioner Kelly, and one to Mayor Bloomberg over these last two weeks There is NO coverage of this in the US news. We have a mountain home in Pennsylvania, my bug out bag is at the door. The issue for anyone on LINY is to get off the dead zone while 5 million others are doing the same. Instant chaos. With current data Luisport has presented is there a 50/50 possibilty of La Palme faulting from the El Heirro eruption ?


  12. luisport says:

    10:48-Present Volcanic Islands (AVCAN-) 259 NOTE AVCAN – EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY-VOLCANIC – IRON ISLAND – OCTOBER 14 2011-12:00 h peninsular – Seismic activity continues to moderate, with few earthquakes located on a smaller scale and continue with a major tremor signal that remains more or less stable since the note yesterday. The magnitude of the earthquakes between 2.2 and 0.5. New quakes 6. Depths 13, 16, 17, 17, 18 and 19 km. The day before yesterday 11. Yesterday 15. Today van 4. A total of 10,042 earthquakes are located in El Hierro by IGN from 9:00 am of July 19, 2011 (Enrique). 10:40, IGN recorded an earthquake at 9:55 pm from 2.6 degrees to 13 km depth


  13. luisport says:

    this is the latest (12:20 UTC) Terra image of El Hierro – you can just see the greenish-yellow plume, now in a spiral shape, from between the clouds. Select 250m resolution for the best picture (but ignore the doubling-up effects of non-rectified pixelation if you do so):


  14. luisport says:

    Two earthquakes: 1105537 14/10/2011 13:24:35 27.8259 -18.0788 22 1.6 4 NW FRONTERA.IHI 1105536 14/10/2011 13:20:41 27.8057 -18.0513 30 2.0 4 NW FRONTERA.IHI


  15. luisport says:

    They named the “new volcano” as Pancho! Omayra González El volcán “Pancho” deberá de salir en su honor cerquita del Mar de las Calmas.
    há 6 minutos · Traduzir.


  16. Motoko1315 says:

    Can this situation affect La Palma?


  17. luisport says:

    Researchers from non-tip (volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands) have confirmed that the stain Public gases caused by underwater eruptions and El Hierro has landed in the top of La Restinga, approximately two hours. The researchers, who are still unaware of the details, go to the place to try to find out more information.

    The submarine eruption is occurring in the area near La Restinga, in the southeast of the island of El Hierro could drive “at most” 0.1 cubic kilometers, ie, equivalent to 40,000 Olympic swimming pools, according to volcanologist Superior Council of Scientific Investigaiones (CSIC), Joan Martí.

    So, Marti explained that “you can not determine” the total volume for the moment, it is unknown how much lava is coming out but, in his view, the maximum volume should not be out “very different” to the historical eruptions the Canary Islands.

    This volume will continue to contribute to the construction of an underwater mountain range that takes thousands, millions of years forming south of El Hierro and therefore “this episode of eruption is one more building in the area, so from this point of view, this should be seen as part of the normal. ”

    On the material you are going abroad, said that molten basalt is mainly touching the water cools and becomes rock and as the turquoise blue of the stain is seen on the water, explained that “probably” will be due to remobilization of sulfur and clay from the ocean floor that gets stirred up and becomes turbulent waters.

    To me it seams like they say the GASes from the eruption have seeped out of the water and onto land …


  18. luisport says:

    Also this from El Mundo (translated by Google):

    “The situation is ugly, no one knows what will happen ‘

    The Ramon Ortiz CSIC researcher evaluated the progress of the volcanic phenomenon that is living in El Hierro : “The magma is rising along the fault line that is several kilometers long. It makes no sense to speak of eruptive mouths. The fundamental problem is know where the mouths, “said scientist working to piece together the rest of the team awake 24 hours the visual phenomenon and instrumentally.

    ” Our mission is whether the eruption stops , if the crack will bring magma near the coast in the middle of the island, or be extended to the south and go into deeper waters, “lists the assumptions of the performance of the phenomenon volcanic. “In a few hours we’ll know, maybe a couple of days,” the researcher resolved the uncertainty. “The important thing is not the spot, the important thing is that the activity continues.”

    Ramon Ortiz confirmed that the situation has changed little from Wednesday: “Today is like yesterday. Do not know yet if the fracture is close to the coast, so we’re watching. The situation is ugly because no one knows what will happen . Every hour we analysis and forecasts and simulations all we can with our computers. ”

    Unknowns and uncertainties

    Apart from the technical, once it seems that there is no direct danger, all you can be visible from the volcano is an attraction for the inhabitants of the island, along the journey to have come from areas which is more easily seen the remains of eruptions: two green spots in the water. Both are within a nautical mile (just under two miles) from La Restinga, the southernmost population of El Hierro.

    The show, however, seems less enjoyable for local fishermen , who were concerned about the potential dangerousness of the substances expelled through the vents on the seafloor. In fact, the fleet remains tied to the expectation of clean water.

    This will happen not in the short term. Although the authorities want to reduce the alarm do recognize that marine life will be affected for a variable period of time but, eventually, the area will benefit from the minerals that are emerging.”


  19. luisport says:

    I spent the entire spectrogram to sound without changing the image to get a closer, this would be the graph of the resulting sound:
    It may not be what you expect, but I wanted to change at any time the results, so if you’ve done is raise it in three different lengths January 1 hour 10 minutes faster, the other in 20 minutes and last time real-time, I recommend download the original file from megaupload because when you upload to SoundCloud recode it again, especially the 1 hour real time on the player loses a lot online. 1 hour 10 minutes: Soundcloud-player hour 20 minutes: Soundcloud-player Real time clock: Megaupload Soundcloud-player online If there is a professional sound you can debug better, so we see different results, what most caught my attention are continuous pulses until they disappear after the most strength as shown in the chart, I recognize that is a crock of reverse engineering because if we had the original data could do real magic.


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