El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands) news & activity updates
Scientists publish first video of the active submarine volcano at El Hierro (Canary Islands)
Sat, 17 Mar 2012, 16:0416:04 PM | BY: T
Scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) aboard the research vessel Atlantic Explorer have published the first videos of the underwater volcanic cone in the Sea of Las Calmas south of El Hierro. The videos, taken by an underwater robot during their latest campaign, show that the eruption is continuing, but also suggest that the summit is still at 120 m rather than the 88 m found during the previous research campaign just 2 weeks earlier.
Screenshot of the video taken at the southwestern flank of the main submarine cone at 170 m depth, showing what looks like round lava bombs (or pillow lava?)
In their press release, the scientists say that there is no "tremor" on the surface of the water, but a "shower of glowing stars" can be seen under water (note: probably, they refer to white ash and tephra particles floating as seen in the video). They conclude that the vent remains active, and generates a convecting column of hot water rising up to 40 m depth. Temperatures of over 60ºC were measured in the area where the robot could approach. Also, fish and other marine life could be seen in some videos proofing that life persists despite the eruption.
The preliminary results of the campaign are summarized as follows:
- For the first time, direct images of the new underwater volcano were obtained from locations at its southwestern flank and near the crater area (to 172 m). The vent itself seems to be at 120 m depth.
- The volcano continues to be active.
- Hot jets are formed from a vent at 120 m depth, forming convecting water cells reaching depths of about 40-60 m. On 13 March, the robot entered one of these cells and got caught in uncontrolled rotations while its thermal sensors showed a strong increase.
- Pyroclastic projections were observed to reaching about 40-50 m in height (i.e. the ejected pyroclasts reach depths of 80-70 m). Ejected bombs form (underwater) ballistic parabolic trajectories and fall back under gravity. Some of these pyroclastic seem to be large.
- During the dive on Wednesday (14 Mar), the southwest flank of the main cone was filmed. It has a steep slope and is composed mainly by large pyroclasts (see screenshot), some of which are similar to the hollow lava balloons that frequently reached the surface in the months of November and December.
- Finally, near the edge of the crater, at a depth of about 170m and under a rain of ash, a school of fish (amberjack possibly) was seen as well as smaller marine animals and closer to the surface, jellyfish.
Links / Sources:
Links / Sources:
- Científicos de la ULPGC comprueban que la vida ha vuelto al Mar de Las Calmas aunque el foco permanece activo9 (ULPGC notícias)
Tue, 13 Mar 2012, 14:53
A weak stain has been visible today above the submarine spot in the Las Calmas Sea south of La Restinga, and a jacuzzi occurred faint this morning at 07:30 am. Volcanic tremor seems to continue at constant, although minimal levels. This suggests that the eruption is indeed continuing. ... read all
Fri, 9 Mar 2012, 11:34
The results of the latest bathymetric mapping survey by the crew of the oceanographic research vessel Ramon Margalef show that the eruption is still continuing, and could still go on for a very long time. read all
Tue, 6 Mar 2012, 09:36
On 5 March, the Instituto Geografico wrote that the eruption that had started on 10 October 2011 has ended. read all
Sat, 3 Mar 2012, 09:49
No immediate end of the eruption is in sight, although it continues at minimal intensity. Volcanic tremor has recovered to a weak and constant level, and occasionally one or two spots with stained water were observed on the sea surface. read all