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Report on Hierro (Spain) — 27 March-2 April 2013


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
27 March-2 April 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Hierro (Spain). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 March-2 April 2013. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (27 March-2 April 2013)



27.73°N, 18.03°W; summit elev. 1500 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 18 March seismic activity at El Hierro sharply increased. Earthquakes were initially located around the NW tip of the island, at about 20 km depth, then later migrated W about 12-15 km offshore W of El Hierro Island, at similar depth. About 100 earthquakes of Mb 3.5 (body wave measurement) or greater had been located, many of them felt by residents. The biggest events occurred on 29 March (Mb 4.7) and 31 March (Mw 4.6, moment magnitude) both at 20 km depth. IGN's GPS data showed inflation of the island, with maximum deformation at the westernmost station of about 10 cm in the horizontal component and about 11 cm in the vertical. Deformation rates reached a maximum during 23-24 March. An increase in carbon dioxide flux was observed in the W area.

Rockfalls were reported on the steep slopes, especially during 26-29 March. On the evening of 27 March the Plan de Protección Civil por Riesgo Volcánico (PEVOLCA) raised the Volcanic Alert Code for the population to Yellow, and closed the access to the W part of the island.

Geological Summary. The triangular island of Hierro is the SW-most and least studied of the Canary Islands. The massive 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 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 S 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 eruption in 1793. A submarine eruption took place about 2 km SSW off the southern point of the island during 2011-12.

Source: Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN)