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Report on Fernandina (Ecuador) — September 1978


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 3, no. 9 (September 1978)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Fernandina (Ecuador) Eruption apparently ended 26 August

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1978. Report on Fernandina (Ecuador) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 3:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN197809-353010



0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The eruption reported last month took place along a fault on the caldera's NW bench. This pre-1947 fault dropped the SE edge of the bench by about 80 m. The three active vents viewed 18-19 August were located on this fracture, not at the back of the bench as reported last month. Although the witnessed cessation of lava venting during the early morning of 19 August appeared to be the end of the eruption, on 24 and 26 August explosive "popping" sounds were heard by Robert Tindle 15 km from the caldera at the island's NE coast. These explosions lasted about 2 hours and were accompanied by "diffuse, smoky haze" drifting down the upper slopes of the volcano. From 27 August until he left the island 5 September, Tindle heard no other activity and saw no other clouds over the NW caldera rim. Visual observations of the caldera on 6 and 19 September likewise showed no signs of activity.

Further Reference. De Roy Moore, Tui, 1980, Galápagos: islands lost in time: Viking, New York, NY, 161 p.

Geological Summary. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 km3 section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Information Contacts: R. Tindle, H. Hoeck, and P. Ramón, CDRS, Galápagos.