Galapagos Volcanic Eruptions

Volcanic Eruptions in the Galapagos Islands are the most exciting thing to see. They are also the major agents of its geological change.


Volcanoes are the main characters in charge of shaping and giving life to the Galapagos Islands.

Volcanic activity and eruptions are the major agents of geological change in the Galapagos.

The young geological history of Galapagos is still in its evolving stage: with less than five million years old, it is an infant in geological time!

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The Galapagos Islands owes its origin to an area of intense heat in the mantle of the Earth on this part of the Pacific. This mantle thermal plume, as it is known, does not move and is called a "hot spot".

The fluid rock (magma) rises to the surface in the form of lava to build up a volcano. Meanwhile, the Nazca plate upon which the crust of the Earth rests, does move dragging itself over the hot spot causing a string of volcanoes as it moves from west to east.

Shield volcanoes like the ones in the Galapagos Islands are large and formed by successive basaltic lavas that outline a low slope.

Due to their shape, volcanic eruptions tend to be mild and less explosive, with very lava, low in viscosity that in many cases, flows down to the coast and on to the sea.

Lava may flow at a temperature of 1.200 °C (2.200 °F) and when it cools down and solidifies, its surface takes interesting and artistically beautiful shapes.

Galapagos explorers enjoy these shapes of wrinkled, wavy and rugged lava flows on Santiago Island and Fernandina Island

Fernandina is the youngest Island in the Archipelago. Its volcano "La Cumbre" (1476m) is only a few hundred thousand years old, which is nothing in comparison with the snow-covered giants on mainland South America.

Fernandina has had a few volcanic eruptions in the last 15 years. The strongest one was in 1995 and lasted almost three months, the next one, in 2005 was moderate and shorter.

The latest volcanic activity started on Saturday April 11th 2009.

Most of the volcanic eruptions start on the flanks of the caldera finding their way down straight to the coast.

These Galapagos eruptions will doubtless have an effect on the local flora and fauna.

The area is still considered a colonization zone,where hardy "pioneer" species struggle to survive.

The caldera of "La Cumbre" has an area of 6,5 km across. From fissures located near the caldera, arms of Lava Rivers flow uniformly to the sea.

Being a young and volcanic Island, the slopes are all covered with lava flows and few plants have successfully established.

Most of the flora and fauna occupy coastal and rocky niches.

Metropolitan Touring's three first-class expedition ships, the M/N Santa Cruz, Yacht Isabella II and Yacht la Pinta have just had the opportunity to get close and enjoy this magical volcanic eruptions.

Waking up early and observing the sunrise with a display of lights and action, in front of Galapagos volcanoes will be one of the best experiences of your life.

Where else on Earth is it possible to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate on deck while cruising the shores of an active volcano and seeing the bright red lava flows meeting the ocean in a crash of steam?

The expedition team and guests on board Yacht la Pinta enjoyed a panoramic view of this fantastic volcanic event from the main lounge and library.

Photographing volcanic eruptions in Galapagos, being right there in front of the action itself, is magnificent, its like a dream come true.

The roaring eruption of La Cumbre volcano will surely decrease populations of some species, and that's exactly the way evolutionary processes work in the Galapagos' natural laboratory of evolution.

Volcanic eruptions create new land, new habitats and new opportunities for life.

Thus, natural selection plays a key role in the evolution of species, and iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, penguins, cormorants and more are ready to face the challenge.

Witnessing volcanic eruptions in Galapagos can be labeled as a mighty fine luxury.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading! There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers. Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in. Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier. But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you. Small, well-priced, and reliable!

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table. This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!

If you have questions about the Galapagos Islands, or if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Land Tours to visit this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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