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El Hierro Underwater Volcano

In 2011 the seismic activity increased on the island of El Hierro, which is the youngest of the Canary Islands. The increased activity included tremors and several earthquakes which were felt by islanders.

The Canarian Government stated there was a very small chance (10%) of volcanic eruption and set the alert to yellow, to keep the people of El Hierro informed on the situation.

On the 10th October 2011 an underwater volcano erupted off the south coast of El Hierro, near fishing village La Restinga. Up until then it had been 218 years since the last eruption on the island.

El Hierro Underwater Volcano
The green stain left on the surface of the water the underwater eruption

Experts say an earthquake of 4,3, may have caused the submarine eruption 5km off the coast. The council of El Hierro confirmed the eruption and conveyed a message of calm to assure there was no danger to the population.

El Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) confirmed there was a small release of fluids and volcanic gases that did not pose risk to the population. 

Gigantic pyroclastic rocks

In November 2011 a scientific team arrived into the port of La Restinga, their boat loaded with giant volcanic rocks as they explored the evolution of the volcanic eruption. The pyroclastic rock found in the waters of La Restinga, El Hierro had been increasing in size.

Steaming pyroclastic rocks

The smoke and bubbling from the ‘mancha verde’ or focus point of the subsea volcano, was visible from the coastline, 2 metres around the boat. The pyroclastic rock samples helped with the investigations and understanding of the waters in El Hierro.

El Hierro Webcam

Early 2012 a webcam was setup overlooking the eruption zone so you could watch a livestream of the activity.

The island, also dubbed as ‘The island of a thousand volcanoes’ has been experiencing earthquakes and eruptions for months.

Several webcams and live streams were set up, so we could all keep an eye on the seas. Some days were quiet, others there were columns of water and volcanic rocks spewing up through the water. It was so interesting to watch live.

After sometime the webcams were shut down because of lack of funds.

El Hierro Wakes Up For Summer 2012

El Hierro has been experiencing seismic activity since last year as you may remember, but after what seems to be a calm period, it’s woken up for Summer.

On Tuesday 26th June 2012 there were 221 registered earthquakes, the largest at 3.5 on the Richter Scale.

The interesting thing is that the deformation and the seismic activity implies the movement of magma (the deformation this week is more than the whole of last year) so it will be interesting to see if we see eruptions out at sea like last Summer, in which gigantic pyroclastic rocks surfaced.

PEVOLCA issued a yellow alert for the areas of El Julan y La Dehesa in El Hierro as there was a new deformation north-west of the previous sub-sea eruption.

M4.6 Earthquake and Rockslides 27/03/13

After 100’s of ‘small’ quakes around M3, PEVOLCA (Plan Espacial de Protección Civil por Riesgo Volcánico) decided to keep the alert level at green and stated that the situation posed no threat to the population.

On 27th March 2013 there were several M3+ earthquakes with the biggest at M4.6 which was felt not only on El Hierro but also on nearby islands of La Palma and La Gomera.

Rockslides were reported on Twitter also in the El Golfo zone of El Hierro:

El Hierro is now classed as a GeoPark and has museums to learn about the volcanic history.

The latest volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands is happening on La Palma which started on September 19th 2021.

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