First Eruption since 2009 Started at Fernandina in the Galapagos

By Erik Klemetti | September 5, 2017 5:59 pm
The plume and thermal signature (red box) of the new Fernandina eruption as seen from Terra's MODIS imager on September 4, 2017. NASA.

The white plume and thermal signature (red box) of the new Fernandina eruption as seen from Terra’s MODIS imager on September 4, 2017. NASA.

News out of Ecuador is that Fernandina in the Galapagos Islands has erupted for the first time since 2009. Starting just after noon (local time) of September 4, the volcano produced new lava flows and a steam-and-gas plume that reached upwards of 4 kilometers (13,000 feet). Video of the eruption (see below) taken that evening show the strongly glowing summit area of the volcano and images show the lava flows working their way down the flanks of the volcano.

The last eruption of Fernandina in 2009 was a fissure eruption that sent lava flows down the slopes of the shield volcano and imperiled some of the rare wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. The island itself is uninhabited, so the hazards are really to the animals living on the island. Rarely do eruptions from Fernandina become explosive, but geologists from the Instituto Geofísico said that small explosions are not out of the question. The most recent eruptions at Fernandina lasted a few weeks.

The last eruption in the Galapagos Islands was from Wolf in 2015. That eruption last almost 2 months as ranked as a VEI 4.

Note: Interestingly, an M4.6 earthquake occurred between Fernandina and Isabelle on September 2, just to the south of Fernandina. The depth was ~10 kilometers, which wouldn’t be unreasonable for magma moving from its mantle source under the Galapagos into the oceanic crust. Now, this isn’t causation, but definitely an interesting correlation.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs

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Rocky Planet covers all the geologic events that made and will continue to shape our planet. From volcanoes to earthquakes to gold to oceans to other solar systems, I discuss what is intriguing and illuminating about the rocks beneath our feet and above our heads. Ever wonder what volcanoes are erupting? How tsunamis form and where? What rocks can tell us about ancient environments? How the Earth might change in the future? You'll find these answers and more on Rocky Planet.

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