Saturday, November 12, 2011

El Hierro Eruptions: First Picture Emerges of Infant Underwater Volcano - 11th Nov 2011

It is rare that the birth of an island can be watched by humans in real-time, but that could be what is happening in Spain's Canary Islands.

Residents of La Restinga on the island of El Hierro were recently evacuated after weeks of earthquakes and the growing threat of an erupting underwater volcano that is making its presence known on the surface with an expanding, bubbling patch of dark debris.

The seismic activity off the coast alerted scientists to the fact that something interesting was happening under the sea. To get a better look, a team of researchers from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) went out on the water and were able to get a high-resolution picture of the volcano in less than two weeks.

The volcanic cone stretches nearly 330 feet (100 meters) above the seafloor, and is 2,300 feet (700 m) wide at its base. Lava is currently oozing out of a crater in the center that is about 390 feet (120 m) wide.

"This is the first time we're able to map [a volcano] so early," said Juan Acosta, principal investigator with IEO who oversaw the mapping. "This is important for understanding the volcanic process in the whole Canary Islands." Read More