El Hierro Volcano eruption (Canary Islands) : Part 27 – January 20 until January 25

Last update: February 4, 2012 at 8:07 am by By

This is Part 27 of the El Hierro Volcano eruption report


With the collaboration of Joke Volta, an El Hierro resident.
Read also: (28/7 - early 09) - (25/09 - 10/10) - (11/10 - 13/10) - (14/10 - 17-10) - (18/10 - 21/10) - (22/10 - 26/10 ) - (27/10 - 31/10 ) - (01/11 - 03/11 ) - (04/11 - 06/11 ) - (07/11 - 08/11) - (09/11- 11/11) - (12/11 - 15/11) - (16/11 - 19/11) - (20/11 - 23/11) - (24/11 - 27/11) - (28/11 - 02/12) - (03/12 - 07/12) - (08/12 - 11/12) - (12/12 - 15/12) - (16/12 - 18/12) - (19/12 - 25/12) - (26/12 - 31/12) - (01/01 - 03/01) - (04/01 - 07/01) - (08/01 - 13/01)(14/01 - 19/01) - (20/01 - 25/01) - part 28  (26/01 - 30/01)
Useful links : @VolcanoReport - El Hierro Picasa Photo Album
Our Webcam pages : 3 in 1 pageLas Calmas UstreamLa Restinga villageEruption webcam

Update 25/01 - 23:11 UTC
- 2 more earthquakes tonight and the strongest since New Year. The 2.8 was beating the 2.5 from 3 hours earlier. Others may follow during the night.
The M 2.8 happened at 20:22 at a depth of 12 km - Epicenter here
- The main reason for these powerful earthquakes is that the vent is now 95% blocked. Some very minor HT remains which can only be seen on this graph
- Joke images from the day - another great set of vent activity and peripheral subjects.

Update 25/01 - 18:46 UTC
- As Julio del Castillo Vivero just told us : 102 earthquakes since January 1.
Today already 6 earthquakes. 4 have been described earlier. The 5th today was the strongest since New Year, a magnitude 2.5 at a depth of 14 km occurred at 17:01 with epicenter here.
- Harmonic tremor tumbled suddenly (probably a new vent collapse) at 16:45. The earthquakes might have been a response to the sudden shutdown of the magma flow as they happened after 17:00

Update 25/01 - 16:50 UTC
- With a jacuzzi still going and an increasing HT, maybe more to come tonight.
- A 4th earthquake occurred at 13:00 at a depth of 13 km. Magnitude : 1.6 - Epicenter here (near Tacaron)
- Joke is currently going through hundreds of pictures she made in search of the big Lava balloon we have spotted (earlier update).
- The island of El Hierro gets higher and higher fever for the visit of the crown Prince and his wife. Princess Laetitia, his wife is an ex prime time TV journalist.

Update 25/01 - 13:14 UTC
- Ann-Kristin made the remarkable webcam capture : A men/woman walking on the jacuzzi !

Update 25/01 - 10:51 UTC
- a bit late today for our first reporting due to an earthquake close to Parma in Northern Italy
- jacuzzi waters strong and a minor harmonic tremor. As we have seen many times before, there seems to be NO direct relation in between HT and the activity at the surface during the normal ongoing submarine eruption. Only the violent phase during the beginning of November was an exception on this.
- have you seen the VERY BIG magma stone in the jacuzzi waters. This block must be meters wide !, almost like a rocK We know the proportion since the blocks we saw a few weeks ago looked minor on the webcam and and where 1.5 meter tall !
- 3 earthquakes so far today. The earthquakes are showing the continuous pressure of the magma against the volcano cone of El Hierro. The magma seeks openings everywhere and is pressing against crevasses, lava tubes etc.

25/01/2012 04:08:11 27.6980 -18.0631 12 1.1 4 W EL PINAR.IHI
25/01/2012 04:09:48 27.7104 -18.0627 13 0.9 4 SW FRONTERA.IHI
25/01/2012 05:00:40 27.6638 -18.0352 13 0.5 4 SW EL PINAR.IHI

Update 24/01 - 23:55 UTC
- Yesterday 6 earthquakes in total. 2 more during the evening hours

Update 24/01 - 18:26 UTC
- This image Joke Volta photographed this morning is a picture who says it all. If you have an apartment in La Restinga you may not be sleeping well tonight, however, the zoom does loose the proportional distance from the vent to La Restinga.
- The second picture shows clearly that the water in the vent is NOT boiling as some say here and there. The many smoking lava balloons are so close to each other that the webcam gives a false impression.
If you click on one of of the pictures you will see them all.

Image courtesy Joke Volta

Image courtesy Joke Volta


Image courtesy Joke Volta

Update 24/01 - 16:56 UTC
- No new earthquakes but a beautiful jacuzzi
- IGN has seemingly difficulties with the HT graph

Update 24/01 - 11:06 UTC
- With a minor harmonic tremor gradually picking up, suddenly a big quantity of lava balloons are surfacing. Once again a fascinating event. A big thank you at Monika for alerting us.
- On Saturday the IGN / Savamar Adhara crew has been measuring the temperature at the inside of the lava balloons : it was 426 °C !, enough to ignite volcanic gases when they are breaking apart and are mixed with oxygen.

A big quantity of Lava Balloons (SLS) were surfacing around 11 AM UTC

Update 24/01 - 09:12 UTC
- A third earthquake (Magnitude 0.3) occurred at 06:15 at a depth of 12 km here
- A 4th earthquake (Magnitude 0.5) occurred at 07:25 at a depth of 12 km here

Update 24/01 - 08:23 UTC
- What a strange situation again this morning. I very visible jacuzzi but probably mainly gas as the HT is almost completely gone.
- 2 earthquakes since midnight UTC. The first one being a 0.8 magnitude at a depth of 13 km at 02:49 here, the second a 1.0 magnitude at a depth of 13 km at 03:39 here
- as long as the earthquakes keep coming, the eruption cannot be called as stopped
- the U-stream webcam shows tens of seagulls around the jacuzzi waters this morning
- what we are missing during this eruption are the documentary makers of BBC and/or National Geographic. It would have been an extraordinary documentary so far!

Screen capture of the involcan / Guardia Civil video from yesterday showing the lettuce form of the jacuzzi and the darker area below the surface

Update 23/01 - 23:58 UTC
The video below made by the Involcan / Guardia Civil has been recorded this morning while the jacuzzi was still very strong. It shows 2 different vents separate from each other, a new phenomenon as far as the last couple of days and weeks. Video 2 (closer to the vents and showing the seagulls and the lettuce shape of the jacuzzi with below it a darker underwater zone (probably the ash on his way to the surface) -- Video 3 (very unstable at the beginning, but after 20 seconds a very nice close up of the emitting vent).

Update 23/01 - 23:55 UTC
- An 8th earthquake happened at 23:05. The earthquake had a magnitude of 1.1 (depth unknown at the moment). Epicenter here
- Harmonic tremor minimal but surviving. Very hard to say what will happen next.

Update 23/01 - 22:55 UTC
- Harmonic tremor came again to life at 20:43 UTC and is still surviving a little bit at the time of writing this update. Just as this morning we see regular strong hydromagmatic bursts.
- 3 more earthquakes later today , making it a total of 7 earthquakes today !

23/01/2012 15:12:28 27.7501 -18.0543 13 1.3 4 W FRONTERA.IHI
23/01/2012 15:44:08 27.7565 -18.0286 5 0.6 4 W FRONTERA.IHI
23/01/2012 20:20:35 27.6701 -18.0068 26 1.4 4 SW EL PINAR.IHI

Update 23/01 - 17:15 UTC
- Joke Volta's images of the day. Joke was surprised daily that AVCAN's Enrique was always mentioning SLS even when we saw anything on the webcam or even with her own eyes from La Restinga. After zooming in at max. and cutting into the big picture she also found SLS this morning ! Enrique is her hero now : ), as he attracted her attention on something which was not visible to her until now. To see the evidence : Click on the images to see the details.

Update 23/01 - 13:41 UTC
- HT back to minimum again ! BUT, nevertheless, strong jacuzzi goes on ! Update 15:20 UTC : almost no more activity since recently.
- 2 new earthquakes since our last reporting.
05:39 : M 1.4 at 16 km depth here
07:19 : M 1.5 at 12 km depth here

Jacuzzi activity on January 23 - 12:11 UTC - courtesy webcam Cabildo / Telefonica

Update 23/01 -11:57 UTC
As we see a more and more active jacuzzi area, we can start thinking of the new phase soon, the Surtseyan phase (when, is depending on the vent activity and can be from hours to weeks if the eruption continues like it goes now).
We want to stress however that based on the just happened Red Sea eruption, the distance from the vent to the coast would be safe enough to not damage La Restinga or any other part of the island. A Surtseyan phase will go normally gradually and with all the scientists aboard, people will have no risk at all.
Additionally IGN or INVOLCAN / ITER have not yet measured high concentrations of the typical eruption gases as yet) It would not surprise us to see it happening soon as the vent depth is reaching the point where the superheated steam pressure from below (magma (1100°C) /water interaction) can become bigger than the water column above it.
We have written it before, but it maybe good the repeat the Wikipedia description of the Surtseyan eruption : A Surtseyan eruption (or hydrovolcanic) is a type of volcanic eruption caused by shallow-water interactions between water and lava, named so after its most famous example, the eruption and formation of the island of Surtsey off the coast of Iceland in 1963. Surtseyan eruptions are the "wet" equivalent of ground-based Strombolian eruptions, but because of where they are taking place, they are more explosive (ER read : steam and ash columns). This is because as water is heated by lava, it flashes in steam and expands violently, fragmenting the magma it is in contact with into fine-grained ash.
- Joke has just reported (you may have seen it on the webcam) that the Guardia Civil /Involcan helicopter was hanging close to the vent measuring gases and temperatures.
- On Saturday evening, the Sasemar flight has reported that the temperature difference in between the Jacuzzi waters and the rest of the ocean was "only" 0.7 °C (19.7 vs 19.0).

Update 23/01 -10:02 UTC
- Harmonic tremor is very unstable but we have the feeling that more surface jacuzzi is taking place the last couple of days. It is an ever changing pattern of activity. Joke who is following this eruption since we started reporting in September is still amazed about what is happening. Being an artist, she sees the changing patterns and the ever changing colors as pieces of nature art. So do we (and probably also you).

Harmonic tremor grapg January 23 - image courtesy IGN

Update 23/01 -08:26 UTC
- Very strong and wide jacuzzi this morning, mostly degassing
- Harmonic tremor came alive again at 06:15
- 2 earthquakes since midnight UTC : 05:39 : 1 M 1.1 at 15 km depth here and 07:19 : 1 M 1.6 at 15 km depth here

Update 22/01 - 23:55 UTC
- There we go again. HT shows a clear sign of collapsing vent, but will the volcano be strong enough to survive ? There is still a minimum signal present but as we know from earlier today, a minimum signal can mean still a big jacuzzi.
- Since 20:21 tonight 4 earthquakes occurred. 20:21 was after the collapse of the vent which means that the magma still looks for a way out and that the eruption cannot be labeled as close to the end. These multiple vent collapses have however a disadvantage as they are probably bad for the further building up of the cone. Here are the details of the earthquakes :
M 0.3 @ 20:21 @ 12 km depth here
M 0.3 @ 20:35 @ 16 km depth here
M 1.0 @ 21:21 @ 15 km depth here
M 0.8 @ 22:14 @ 13 km depth here

Update 22/01 - 18:39 UTC
- still SLS Lava balloons coming up now and then. Mini fireworks maybe in the making tonight. We would of course love the fact thet the eruption webcam would be zoomed on the vent, but maybe we ask to much from a webcam operator who does not seem to understand what it all a bout.
- Joke Volta images from earlier today. Many pictures from the stain and for the eventual second vent. She made a study of it but as the stirring is not continuous, it is hard to determine what the exact location is. Same for us with the continuously moving webcam !?! We think that the possible location of the second vent is more towards La Restinga and closer to the current vent.
ER point of view : Based on the scale of the IEO map (see update 20/01 - 12:50) the vent is 430 meter more to the coast and is currently at a depth of 210 meter. The only thing that we do not know is the direction of this new vent in relation to the always active shallower one. It corresponds more or less with the activity we have seen yesterday in the webcam, however it is only a guess as the IEO science people are not disclosing all details.

Update 22/01 - 17:08 UTC
- Again stronger and stronger activity of a wide jacuzzi with smoking lava balloons as a reader said it. Will it arrive at Surtseyan level ? We will see but the least we can say is that the volcano is not giving up soon.
- a lot of hydromagmatic action at the moment, which explains the forceful jacuzzi.

Update 22/01 - 12:17 UTC
- What a peculiar situation today. Almost no HT, only a very faint signal (only visible if you click on the image) which proves that a very small flow is still going on, but a very strong jacuzzi instead. Emitted gas reaches the surface very powerful. It would be truly a pity if the eruption would stop here, only 30 to 50 meter from sea surface action !

Harmonic tremor from midnight UTC until noon

Update 22/01 - 07:56 UTC
- No harmonic tremor this morning after a night with great changes from minor to almost max. and minor again. The current minor HT came certainly after a vent collapse
- strong Jacuzzi degassing
- eruption webcam working again
-A total of 5 earthquakes yesterday. The magma is still pushing to find his way to the surface
- NO earthquakes so far today

Update 21/01 - 18:14 UTC
- Again some beautiful action images from Joke Volta. Since she has a bigger zoom camera, she can get a lot more details from the jacuzzi area.

Update 21/01 - 17:27 UTC
- Unfortunately the Telefonica / Cabildo eruption webcam has stopped working (again). We will be in the dark tonight.
- HT is subsiding gradually to minimum vales. No sudden decrease but a slowly decreasing signal.
- Even with a minimal HT, the jacuzzi waters are still very active
- NO new earthquakes since our 15:06 update

Update 21/01 - 15:06 UTC
- 2 new earthquakes occurred at 11:12 and 11:13 having a magnitude of 0.9 and 1.6 at a depth of resp. 13 km and 9 km. Epicenter earthquake 1 here and earthquake 2 here.

Update 21/01 - 14:28 UTC - El Hierro lava under the microscope
ER reader Birgit Hartinger is a woman with a mission!. She loves nature and even more volcanoes. Birgit works for the Ars Electronica Center, a Museum of the Future—the place where all the diverse blends of artistic genres, scientific domains and technological directions are displayed and processed, as the site claims in his website.
Birgit got the authorization from her employer to use (outside her normal working hours) the incredible expensive microscopes for her hobby, "microscopic images of lava from all over the world".
Earthquake-Report.com admires Birgit for her effort even more, because she is publishing the results in her Flickr open source library and not hided in a dark corner like science mostly operates (there are a number of scientists rowing against the stream who we also admire).
Now, Birgit needs your cooperation. We know that we have a lot of volcano enthusiasts among our readers and we would ask them a favor whenever they are near a volcano (even a volcano who has not erupted in a long time like lava from the other Canary Islands). For her work, Birgit needs only a tea-spoon of material who can easily be send by envelope or small parcel (please do NOT send complete lava balloons :) ). Do not forget to add as much as info as possible. The lava samples can be send to : ARS Electronica Center, att. Mrs. Birgit Hartinger, Ars Electronica Strasse 1 4040 Linz Austria.
Birgit has stressed that reuse of her images is allowed for non-commercial purpose and if the source is mentioned.
On behalf of our readers, thank you Birgit.

El hierro lava dated before November 26

Microscopic pictures of El Hierro lava catched in the Las Calmas sea on November 27, 2011

Update 21/01 - 12:02 UTC
- This short ER video shows the Salvamar Adhara on his Lava Balloons fishing expedition. At the end of the video one can see that a big block is suddenly surfacing just next to the ship and the captain navigating quickly away from it. In other words, this action has a dangerous potential for the people hanging over the edge of the boat as the blocks are very hot and can break apart with a flash ignition.
- Harmonic tremor has increased a lot since our first description today.

Update 21/01 - 11:16 UTC
- Once again a remarkable stain, Jacuzzi and at times some SLS Lava Balloons this morning. It would have been nice to be a Jonathan Livingstone for an hour. They (the seagulls) are enjoying the show at maximum, probably for other reasons :).

IEO Full report Bimbache 1011-7, including the details of the bathymetry study
This link thanks to ER reader Martin Rey. The report is in Spanish (translate via Google translator) and describes what IEO has been doing during the last Ramon Margalef mission on January 10 and 11. The number 7 behind 1011 indicates that this was the seventh mission of the IEO since they were called in to assist Pevolca with the eruption.
- a lot of seagulls at the jacuzzi spot

This map shows the area which was scanned on depth of the seabed by the Ramon Margalef - map courtesy IEO

Update 21/01 - 07:54 UTC
- Each time the volcano tends to close and stop erupting, he/she is building up energy again. Almost flat HT at midnight and a low medium HT now.
- Lava balloons can be spotted at the beginning of the Jacuzzi, a lot more than yesterday
- Yesterday : 4 earthquakes ; Today : 1, M 1.1 at 00:30 at 11 km depth here

Update 20/01 - 17:26 UTC
New set of images from Joke Volta. The seagulls on 2 of the pictures have been photographed by a combination of a Panasonic Lumix 18x optical zoom and a binocular ! Joke is continuously trying out her material to enjoy the if ...... moment at her best : ).

Update 20/01 - 16:09 UTC
Just a trial we recorded a little earlier. We need the assistance of the Lava Balloon spotters to confirm that this would be the new location to look at.

Update 20/01 - 12:50 UTC
One of the images published by the IEO and used in the site of Canarias7 shows a second emission point, deeper than the current vent but located in a flatter area which may accumulate magma more easier than the current steep vent. However we haven't seen any jacuzzi on this location as we do not know the exact position of this vent. Many of our readers (see comment below) have spotted lava balloons on a new vent location.
With thanks to the many readers who have seen the lava balloon Roland and Max mentioned first. A site like ours needs the many eyes of our readers to see changing patterns etc.

image courtesy IGN

Update 20/01 - 12:50 UTC
ER reader Max was commenting a few minutes ago :
There were a few lava balloons at strange location further to the west and closer to the shore that the Telefonica camera found. Not sure if there is a new vent.
Are there other people who have seen these lava balloons, and if yes on which location ? Please answer via comment below.

Update 20/01 - 12:07 UTC
- A third very weak magnitude 0.4 earthquake occurred at 10:34 here
- We are a little surprised about the epicenters of the current earthquakes. All 3 are located in between 3 to 5 km out of the coast in the same area than the current vent. Additionally, for 2 earthquakes IGN has not given a focal depth (extremely shallow ? or just normal ?) . It proves at least that the magma is still pushing below the Las Calmas sea.

Harmonic tremor from midnight UTC until 10:40 UTC - image courtesy IGN

Update 20/01 - 10:57 UTC
- Waking up with new action, for some great news (certainly after the vent has grown to a lesser depth) but for part of the local populations and extension of the misery.
- After yesterday's 4 earthquakes (all but one after the almost total disappearance of HT) IGN has listed 2 new earthquakes today.
A M 0.9 occurred at 03:40 here and another M 1.1 only 6 minutes later here. Both earthquakes happened approx. 20 minutes before HT returned rather strong.
- At the time of writing this update HT is decreasing gradually to very low values although we still see stirring waters on the webcam. We assume that this is a partial and gradual collapse of the vent again.

Read also : Scientific paper reveals massive historic Tenerife volcano flank collapse
Read also: Economic impact on El Hierro and the Canary Islands if an aerial eruption would occur

Volcano Discussion Panel : If you are a person who wants to discuss and read about all aspects of volcanoes, this discussion panel might be a very good place to hang around. Especially if we start speculating about what to happen next, this panel is a great place to look at. Give it a chance.

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