Volcano Eruptions in Galapagos

Volcano Eruptions in Galapagos can be explained by looking at the forces of Plate Tectonics and the Hot Spot.

Galapagos Volcano Eruption



These spots allow the liquid rock (magma) to percolate towards the plate filling up all cracks, crevices and in some cases reaching from below the bottom of the ocean, and eventually breaking the surface of the water.

These forces create Islands in the middle of the ocean, just like the Galapagos were created.

The Hot Spot in the Galapagos Islands is located right under the Islands of Isabela and Fernandina.

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During the night of April 10, 2009 La Cumbre volcano on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos has started a new eruptive process. This volcano of 1,476 meters high is not inhabited and is located 90 Kms.

To the northwest of Puerto Villamil the closest village on Isabela Island, so there is no danger for the human population.

Lava flows have been observed, coming from a lateral fissure located 500 meters below the crater at the southwest side of the Island, close to Cape Hammond.

This is a radial fissure 200 meters long and 10 meters wide that reaches up to 15 meters high. There is also a large column of smoke.

The volcano eruptions were observed by rangers from Galapagos National Park, and a tourist boat in the early hours of Saturday morning April 11th 2009.

An eruption column with low ash content was visible on satellite images extending 300 km west of the volcano. Satellite images show several hot spots at Fernandina volcano, which indicate lava flows.

The volcano eruptions on Fernandina Island have been constant during the last years. The volcano on Fernandina Island erupted four years ago, without causing major damage to the flora and fauna of the area.

Although, tour excursions to Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island have not been suspended. Authorities of the Galapagos National Park are constantly monitoring the developments to determine that it is safe to continue with them.

The volcano on the uninhabited Island of Fernandina Island has been inactive for nearly five years, but this Saturday April 10th, 2009 volcano eruption arose in the form of lava, smoke, and toxic gases.

While there is no threat to humans, this Island chain has long been home to endemic animal and plant life, and La Cumbre's recent eruption could very likely affect the marine life and fauna on and around Fernandina.

The seismic station at Puerto Ayora did not record any earthquakes associated with the eruption.

Personnel from the Galapagos National Park on Isabela Island are making a flight over the volcano, to ascertain more precisely the location of the eruption center, and assess the extent of the lava flows and their likely impact fauna and flora of the area.

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Hot Spot in Galapagos

The width of the hot spot is estimated to be approximately 150 kilometers (100 miles).

Since the Galapagos Islands are moving with the Nazca plate and the hot spot remains stationary, the Islands form and slowly drift away from the hot spot, at about 5 cm per year, allowing more volcanoes and Islands to be formed.

Also the Galapagos Islands move with the Nazca Plate in an east-southeast direction so the older Islands are found in the southeast.

The newly forming Islands are located in the northwest. Since all of the volcanoes are formed underwater, the material forming them builds and accumulates as it spreads out like a sand hill.

This process creates the Islands in the form of a volcano with gentle sloping sides and a central vent. This type of volcano is known as a Shield Volcano.

The beauty and uniqueness of the Galapagos Wildlife is certainly enhanced by the Galapagos geology features.

General Volcano Background

Fernandina Island is the westernmost Island of the Galapagos Archipelago. It is one of the youngest and most active volcanoes on Earth. There are no human settlements on the island.

Fernandina Island holds only one visitor site: Punta Espinoza (located on the northeast corner of the Island)

This shield volcano raises 1,476 meters above sea level (4,842 feet) Previous Galapagos eruption on Fernandina took place in May 2005 when lava flows originated from a fissure on the south-eastern flank of the volcano and descend without reaching the sea.

Volcano eruptions on Island volcanoes are mostly through fissure eruptions. These fissures can be radial or circumferential.

Volcano Eruptions in Galapagos

1813, 1814, 1817, 1819, 1825, 1846, 1888, 1926, 1927, 1937, 1958, 1961, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1991, 1995, 2005 and 2009.

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