New Subsea Volcanic Eruption Occurs Near El Hierro (The Canary Islands)
By MARK DUNPHY
Sat Oct 15,2011
The Spanish port of La Restinga, located in the southeast of El Hierro in The Canary Islands, has been closed due to fresh subsea volcanic activity.
An underwater volcanic eruption, Spain’s first since La Palma in 1971, was first detected in Las Calmas Sea on Monday three months after an unprecedented earthquake swarm commenced on the 285-square-kilometre island. A new eruption was detected about 2 miles south of La Restinga on Saturday morning (15 Oct., 2011).
Local Government officials say the decision to close the port and evacuate La Restinga’s estimated 670 residents is a precautionary measure in the event that the ongoing eruption should proceed to shallower levels, at which stage there is a heightened risk of explosive eruptions occurring close to or on the island.
The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) also has introduced a two-kilometre exclusion zone around the Tacaron cruce, previously used by members of the public as an ocean viewing location.
Local officials quashed earlier media reports that more of El Hierro’s 11,000 were scheduled to be evacuated. They have appealed for calm and suggested there is no indication that an explosive eruption might occur on the island, the southernmost in the chain.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that volcanic material has been identified floating to the sea surface, approximately 2.5 kilometres south of La Restinga. The reports have yet to be verified by Spain’s Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN). However, aircraft have been prohibited from flying over the affected area and marine vessels have been ordered to steer clear of the area.
In the below image, captured on Friday by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying on board NASA’s Aqua satellite, two large green stains are visible on the surface of Las Calmas Sea.