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El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain): increasing seismic activity, first evacuations

Wednesday Sep 28, 2011 18:19 PM | BY: TOM PFEIFFER

Concern is growing that the El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands) could be heading towards an eruption, after seismic activity beneath the island increased strongly over the past days. More than 150 earthquakes were recorded on Tuesday alone. At least 20 earthquakes were larger than 3 mag Richter and could be felt by locals during the past 24 hours.
Local authorities advised some local residents to evacuate from their homes, shut El Hierro’s main tunnel, and closed local schools.
According to news, plans are being made to be ready to evacuate more of the island’s 10,000 residents and 2 units of the Spanish military’s emergency intervention unit (EMU) has arrived from nearby island Tenerife to assist in the possible evacuation of hundreds of El Hierro residents.
El Hierro is a young shield volcano, with a single known historic eruption from the Volcan de Lomo Negro vent in 1793. The eruption lasted ca. one month and produced lava flows.
The Government raised the volcanic risk level to ‘Yellow’ on Sunday, the highest alert status since the unprecedented earthquake swarm begun around 19 July. Since then, more than 8,200 earthquakes have been recorded until now. Up to last weekend, most tremors were small and relatively deep, but the quakes in recent days were significantly larger and located at depths of 14-17 km.
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