Sierra Negre volcano news & eruption updates (Galapagos Islands, Ecuador)
Sierra Negra volcano (Galapagos): eruption probably has ended
Lava stopped flowing at Sierra Negre volcano on the evening of 30th of Oct. 2005.
However, even 10 days after the end of the eruption, fires caused by the eruption continued, threatening some rare plants on the island. About 500 hectars in the National Park were burning on the W flank of the volcano in an area called Pampas de Velasco. This area is home to the largest population in the islands of the rare endemic plant Scalesia cordata, which was threatened by the fires. Therefore, the local authorities decided to intervene and take costly measures to extinguish the bushfire.
Eruption of Sierra Negre volcano (23 Oct. 2005):
What is nearby? Near the eruption site, the terrain consists mainly of older, unvegetated lava flows. The popoluation of Puerto Villamil is not threatened becaused of its sheltered location at the S of the island. Because of the geologic characteristics (being a typical hot spot volcano, such as Hawaii), the volcanos of the Galapagos Islands produce very fluid lava flows (low viscosity) that permits the flows to travel over great distances.
Evolution of the eruption:
1) The eruption began, at 17:30 h local time on Sunday, 23 Oct. 2005, with a powerful explosion that emptied the uppermost batch of gas-charged magma, heard until 25 km away from the volcano. In addition to the noise of the explosion, a strong smell of sulphur was notised.
2) A gas and ash column rose to about 20 km above the volcano.
3) From a fissure (inferred from photographs), lava fountains started to produce lava flows observed by park rangers. Two flows are travelling towards Elizabeth Bay, while a third one is heading towards Cartago Bay. The lava flows (as on Mon. 24th of Oct.) have reached a distance of 9-10 km.
Backgound: Sierra Negre is the largest of the Galapagos volcanoes, with a caldera 10 km in diameter. Its last eruptino occurred in 1979; the lava flows of that eruption did not pose any significant risk to the population of the island.