Galapagos Volcano Erupting
Yesterday early morning the volcano “Wolf” erupted on Isabela. Its last eruption was more than thirty years ago. The first I heard about this was from one of our passengers who had a flight from Isabela to Baltra that morning; they flew right by it.
The eruption does not threaten any inhabitants, nor will it disrupt any tourism services. For a while some naturalists where concerned about the pink Galapagos land iguana which can only be found on the slopes around the rim of the volcano, but the eruption (likely to last several days or weeks) has occurred on the far side of the volcano from where the main colony exists.
The last volcanic eruption here in the Galapagos occurred in 2005. The volcano Sierra Negra (also on Isabela) spewed lava for almost two weeks. Most of the lava spilled into the caldera with only about thirty percent of it running down the side, which fortunately happened to be the far side from where people live on Isabela.
The caldera of Sierra Negra is the second largest caldera of an active volcano in the world. It is basically round with a diameter of ten kilometers. Essentially flat in the middle ringed by nearly vertical hundred to two hundred foot cliffs atop which grow all kinds of trees and bushes. Unless you are looking into the caldera, it is hard to conceive you are walking around on an active volcano.
Before the eruption of Galapagos volcano, Sierra Negra in 2005, scientists had been monitoring the bottom of the caldera and had noticed the entire ten kilometer disk had risen five meters. After the eruption it returned to its original height. It has been rising ever since and is now up three meters from where it was.
The volcanos in the Galapagos are all “shield” volcanos. They tend to erupt out the sides of the caldera or the slopes of the volcano itself. In 1974 Sierra Negra did just that, resulting in an area which is currently referred to as Volcano Chico and is a popular visitor site. It looks something like you might imagine the moon to look with areas and tubes still smoldering hot.