Canary Islands Red Alert?

Map of the Canary Islands

Map of the Canary Islands

Don’t know if this site is indulging in some ‘over the top’ headlines, or if it’s for real; but… There are many other similar stories (just without the “red alert” tag line…). SOMETHING is happening in the Canary Islands.

El Hierro Volcano (Canary Islands) : Red alert – Continuing strong harmonic tremor bursts

Last update: November 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm by By Armand Vervaeck and James Daniell

This is the most recent El Hierro Volcano eruption report
Update 12/11 – 17:22 UTC
– We see a lot of activity on the harmonic tremor graphs today, but nothing visually at the surface
– The strongest earthquake so far today occurred recently at 15:59 UTC at a depth of 19 km and had a magnitude of 3.1 (location below)

While their dating scheme is a bit confusing (what IS 12/11 anyway?) they have a chart of harmonic tremor from 11/11/2011 which is kind of hard to get wrong ;-) I think they are using the dating order I like (dd / mm / yy) but are not adding one critical bit that I especially like. I use a TLA for the month. dd MMM yy or sometimes dd MMM yyyy. No way to be ambiguous then. 12 Nov 2011 is pretty clear. At any rate, leaving out the year and then having the month be two digits is rife with possibilities, clarity not so much…

Back to the volcano…

Tuesday, Nov 08, 2011
El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain): eruption expected to breach the surface soon
16h30 PM | Age: 4 days
One of the explosions ejecting ash above the surface (image: Radio Televisión Canaria,

Signs are increasing that the submarine eruption south of El Hierro could be breaking the ocean surface very soon. At the moment, there are 2 areas with violent bubbling fountains (locally called “jacuzzi”) up to 20 m high where the water temperature has increased by at least 10 deg C. Occasionally, the first small explosions are seen ejecting rocks, pumice and ash.
When the next (so-called Surtseyan) phase of violent, sustained steam and ash explosions starts is yet unknown, but it seems very likely now and could even happen very soon. This type of phreatomagmatic activity is caused by the interaction of lava close to the sea surface and is the second phase of building a new island.

El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain): earthquake in the El Golfo area, increasing steam and ash fountains and CO2 emissions
00h24 AM | Age: 4 days
Explosions above the still submarine vents south of El Hierro are getting stronger and follow one another every 10 to 15 minutes, generating large clouds and sometimes jets of gas, steam and ash mixed with blocks rising to 30-35 meters. At night, red glow is visible above the jacuzzi.
At 17:51 GMT, a 3.4 earthquake under the El Golfo area was felt on the island. It is still not clear whether a second eruptive vent is active in that area. Due to the much greater depth, it would be more difficult to spot on the surface.
In the meantime, scientist from IGN and PEVOLCA (Civil Protection for Volcanic Risk) continue to measure increasing levels of carbon dioxide, another sign that magma is rising and getting closer to the sea surface. The possible presence of drifting layers of the deadly CO2 is a now serious risk for anyone at low altitude near the site of the eruption.

I just have to ask: If we get toxic levels of CO2, great quantities, from ONE undersea volcano, and all the ocean floor is littered with volcanoes (which have unknown levels of vulcanism at any one time) just how much do we know about natural CO2 emissions from the ocean?

At any rate, this site says the volcano took a break 3 days ago. Now the other site says ‘stuff is happening now’… The ‘pause that refreshes?’

Wednesday, Nov 09, 2011
El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain): pause in activity, but seismicity remains high
23h07 PM | Age: 3 days
There is a pause of the eruption at El Hierro. The activity from the submarine vents ca. 1 km south of El Hierro has decreased significantly, or even stopped completely today, scientists in La Restinga and the Guardia Civil reported.
Nevertheless, volcanic tremor remains high and there have been 10 small earthquakes NW of Frontera in the second half of the past night.

This one:

Two new volcanic eruptions were confirmed on Wednesday near Spain’s El Hierro island in the Canaries, where 500 people spent another night outside their homes after being evacuated as a precautionary measure.

“I confirm the existence of two points of volcanic eruption at El Hierro,” Laura Otero, a spokeswoman for the local authorities, told AFP, adding that there were dead fish and a strong odor of sulfur at both sites.

The head of emergency services in the Canaries, Juan Manuel Santana, said in a statement that “the two points are located at two nautical miles and 1.5 miles southwest of (the village of) La Restinga”.

The first eruption occurred at a depth of 2,300 feet and the other at a depth of 655 feet.

He said the eruptions “resulted in two stains on the sea surface where there are dead fish and a strong odour of sulfur.”

The Daily Mail has some nice photos and maps:

Rising from beneath the waves: A new Canary Island emerges as underwater volcano hits the surface

Volcano off El Hierro is just 70metres away from the surface and is spewing magma 20metres into the sky
Nearby town is evacuated and ships banned from travelling to the area as strong smell of sulphur fills the air
Explosive plumes and jets have been spotted coming from the volcano for the last month

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 12:28 PM on 10th November 2011

Lets just hope the new island does not come with the loss of a big chunk of the old island and a great tsunami on the East Coast of the USA…

The Smithsonian site doesn’t add much:

HIERRO Canary Islands (Spain) 27.73°N, 18.03°W; summit elev. 1500 m

Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) reported that during 2-8 November the submarine eruption continued S of El Hierro Island. Tremor amplitude reached higher values than during previous weeks, getting closer to the values detected during 11-12 October, just after the beginning of the eruption. During 3-4 November an increase of the activity could be observed over the submarine emission center, with large circles of light blue color on the sea surface, followed by foam rings and turbulent water with volcanic material. Close to sunset on 5 November, big bubbles rose to the sea surface and ejected sea water and volcanic material a few meters above the water. This activity continued during the following days.

During 2-8 November, 364 seismic events were recorded, most of them located offshore to the N of the island, at depths of 16-23 km. The maximum magnitude was 4.4, and 32 of these events were felt by residents at a maximum intensity value of V using EMS-98 (European Macroseismic Scale). The total number of located events since 17 July was 11,294. GPS deformation analysis showed trends towards no deformation during the first days of the reported period, and a slight trend towards deformation to the S at the stations located on the N side of the island in the last days.

During 4-5 November authorities evacuated about 80 residents from areas in Frontera due to landslide risks from seismic activity. Residents of La Restinga were evacuated on 5 November. According to a news article, ships and aircraft were banned from the area.

Geologic Summary. The triangular island of Hierro is the SW-most and least studied of the Canary Islands. The massive Hierro shield volcano is truncated by a large NW-facing escarpment formed as a result of gravitational collapse of El Golfo volcano about 130,000 years ago. The steep-sided 1500-m-high scarp towers above a low lava platform bordering 12-km-wide El Golfo Bay, and three other large submarine landslide deposits occur to the SW and SE. Three prominent rifts oriented NW, NE, and south at 120 degree angles form prominent topographic ridges. The subaerial portion of the volcano consists of flat-lying Quaternary basaltic and trachybasaltic lava flows and tuffs capped by numerous young cinder cones and lava flows. Holocene cones and flows are found both on the outer flanks and in the El Golfo depression. Hierro contains the greatest concentration of young vents in the Canary Islands. Uncertainty surrounds the report of an historical eruption in 1793.

Some nice history. A better picture of the rate of quaking.

Then there is the Spanish site:

They have a nice page with the last 10 days activities on it:

In Conclusion

In past Solar Grand Minimum events we have had cold and more volcanic activity. I see no reason for this one to be different. Given the tidal cycles we’ve seen (driven by the same orbital mechanics that stir the sun) I would speculate that it’s a simple matter of tides on earth (both in the oceans and in the magma) being ‘in resonance’ with solar changes. The sun does not need to be directly causal to be directly correlated; and more importantly, I don’t need to know or care which of those two it is to use the result to my advantage…

At this point I’d speculate that we’re in for more volcanic activity as we drop deeper into our grand minimum. Not just Katla in Iceland, but the Canaries and a few down in South America too. We can only hope that Indonesia does not join in, in any major way, as it tends to be very destructive to global society when a big one there ‘lets loose’. Kamchatka and Alaska are also rumbling (but tend to rumble a lot anyway). Then there is that correlation that a half dozen or so years after a Great Quake in Japan, they have some volcano blow off… so about 2015 to 2020. Keep an eye on Mt. Fuji… We can also only hope that the Italian volcanoes keep quiet. There are way too many people living on the sides of them now. (At some point I need to find a history of volcanic activity in Italy and match it against the Roman Optimum / Dark Ages cycles…)

But for now, we’re looking at a significant potential in The Canaries as a new island is formed.

Oh, and I’m still kind of hoping for just a little belch from Mount Lassen. I’ve been waiting half a century now ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to Canary Islands Red Alert?

  1. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Check out Iceland, Katla could be about to do something too?

  2. There is that massive chunk of mountainside with the risk of falling into the ocean — but I think we’d just let it slide.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @Keith DeHavelle:

    So, wonder what the global production of super glue might be? Think it’s enough? ;-)

    Then again, with enough time, we could use the global epoxy supply too …

  4. “Epoxy on both your masses!”

    I suspect that the effort would be overcome by the shear difficulty of the endeavor.

    I remember your post about the island split. It’s the sort of thing described in fairly breathless terms by folks like this person:

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Keith DeHavell:

    Well, that’s a sticky subject, but I’m sure we can solidify some truths about it if we try. No need to be inundated with a sense of helplessness. Besides, I live on the West Coast now… so we already know that the East Coast is all wet ;-)

    Or will be…

    FWIW, I don’t want to be making a mole hill out of a mountain, but it’s always possible that the ‘slide’ might happen in a bit more chunky a manner. It doesn’t necessarily all go together when it goes… So maybe we can cut this problem down to size if we chisel off bite size pieces. I’m sure the islanders will welcome their opportunity to save us, and we can just issue them shovels and get them started ‘reducing the problem’. “Many hands make light work” and all…

    Or maybe we can just ship them a boat load of moles…

    At any rate, just think how cheap it will be to buy ‘beach front property’ in Florida once the wave passes over the place! (I’m pretty sure it would make it from shore to shore, at least in the southern half… even in the middle it’s only about 200 feet tall) Not that I’m being selfish or anything, but just looking on the bright side of things ;-)

  6. George says:

    Here’s the tremor graphs for the past three days:

    You can follow the graph sequence by changing the date in the URL.

  7. Tom Bakewell says:

    European dating system is DD MM YY or variations on that. Makes sense to me to go from smaller to larger time increments. My Father used the variant with MM in Roman numerals to remove all doubt. Worked fine everywhere else but here in USA. Banks would refuse checks dated his way…

    Tom Bakewell 13XI2011

  8. Pascvaks says:

    Three things we need to always remember about canarys –

    a.) They’re a masterpiece of creation.
    b.) They don’t live long.
    c.) They’re great for early warning

  9. tckev says:

    “Seismic activity beneath Santorini volcano continues to be slightly above normal levels.” so says

    If it happens then it’s an interesting 60 year period.

  10. Jsimon says:

    The quake swarms beneath El Hierro are picking up agin today. 18 since midnight or in the last 15 hours.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    IGN has a nice page of summary graphs up at this link:

    The “accumulated energy” graph is ‘rising nicely’…

  12. Roger says:

    Jokes about Florida property being cheap after a mega tsunami and comment.
    Not really funny if you live on the east coast of florida like I do. However, there is so much crime, corruption, poverty, unemployment, and sadness, Why would anyone one care to buy up dead peoples land on , pretty much , Dead Peoples Land? lol.
    The African Plate and Turkey Fault line. I think the next big quake in Turkey shall result in another Canary Island volcano explosion.
    Look how they have coincided so far.
    If you have been reading up on it,?, there is now the present of one of the two explosive gases, that once combine, could bring down the 400 miles of coastline that cause, now, a mile high dome, not the 3,000 foot earlier predicted dome, that rushes the tsunami.
    I have lived in florida since 1961, – 5 years around the world, and I hate to let it go.
    The good news about this tsunami is that it should purge the effect of DDT pesticides in the area, out of the area!I The Best Hunting and Fishing Grounds in the entire world won’t be back for 60 years because DDT at the Space Center.
    On the Bright Side:
    Once the Space Center and people are gone, the Natives shall once again return and flourish on the Tiacuma !
    With entire towns wiped out and no reasons to bring them back, why would anyone want to buy land there? And from who, they all be dead,?

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