El Hierro Volcano eruption (Canary Islands) : Part 31 – February 11 until February 16

Last update: February 28, 2012 at 10:22 am by By

This is Part 31 of the El Hierro Volcano eruption report


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With the collaboration of Joke Volta, an El Hierro resident and Julio del Castillo Vivero, photographer.
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) -  (26/01 – 30/01) – (31/01 – 04/02) – (05/02 – 10/02) – Part 31 (11/02 – 16/02) – Part 32 (17/02 – 23/02)
Useful links : @VolcanoReportEl Hierro Picasa Photo Album
Our Webcam pages : 3 in 1 pageLas Calmas UstreamLa Restinga villageEruption webcam

Update 16/02 – 21:15 UTC
- Joke Volta and Julio del Castillo Vivero worked together once again, to bring us a new high definition panoramic photograph of Tacarón, one of the impressive landscapes of El Hierro. Click on the image for full size. It was taken on the morning of February 15th.

Another great cooperation in between Joke and Julio are the following pictures. 2 artists working together can make great works. I wish to congratulate Joke and Julio on behalf of our readers.

Rainbow at El Hierro

Update 16/02 – 20:07 UTC
- 5 more earthquakes making it a record number since late November. We will probably arrive at +30 earthquakes today. All the earthquakes are very weak with the majority below M 1.0
On top of the listed earthquakes are a lot of micro-earthquakes, too small to list but showing the continues pressure from the magma to find his way to escape.

Update 16/02 – 16:32 UTC
- 6 more earthquakes bringing the total on 22 today – a 2012 record is in the making
- 4 more pictures of the jacuzzi which started this morning at approx. 09:00 and is still continuing. As seen from the webcam mainly degassing is going on.
- (Horizontal) GPS data are fairly stable at the different El Hierro stations. Vertical GPS data (lifting of the island) are not open source.

Update 16/02 – 14:28 UTC
- Images of the stirring sea area from this morning by Joke Volta
- HT gradually dying again
- Stain still visible but getting fainter and fainter
- 16 earthquakes so far today ! The earthquakes are (if confirmed) shallower than during the earlier days. The 7 km depth looks to be confirmed by IGN which is a serious decrease vs the average 11 to 12 km from the last couple of weeks.


R/V Atlantic Explorer

Update 16/02 – 10:16 UTC
We want to share in this main window the comment Javier from SOS Oceanos made in our comment section.
- The research vessel “Atlantic Explorer” from the company “QSTAR” that has been colaborating in our marine protection projects “SOS OCEANOS”, left early this morning the island of Gran Canaria heading to El Hierro island. Together with the Geology http://www.gi.ulpgc.es/geovol/ and Oceanography department´s of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria they will make several campaigns in the next months (two days campaigns every two weeks) in the area of volcanic eruption on the island of El Hierro. Onboard R/V”Atlantic Explorer” there´s a ROV system and if the conditions are ok they will try to reach the volcano.

Update 16/02 – 08:56 UTC
– the HT signal is slightly increasing again with a prompt jacuzzi in the Las Calmas sea
- As written yesterday, Joke used her new freedom to visit the Tacoron beach, an area she likes a lot. The images below are the result of her Tacoron trip. This site is not only following the El Hierro volcano eruption, but is almost a leaflet of the beauty of El Hierro, all thanks to Joke. We suggest that the El Hierro cabildo should congratulate Joke Volta with her endless energy to show the beauty of the island. Tacoron was closed by Pevolca in October because of high concentration of toxic (eruption) gases.

Update 16/02 – 08:16 UTC
- Flat HT this morning. We cannot say that the eruption stopped completely, but we can state that it almost stopped.
- Earthquakes are picking up at this time , 8 so far since midnight (all below 2.0, but 3 with a depth below 10 km).
- Stain is faintly visible in the Las Calmas sea

Update 15/02 – 23:55 UTC
- Harmonic tremor almost flat (another collapse ?)
- No more substantial earthquakes since 17:56 UTC

Update 15/02 – 19:43 UTC
NASA Earth Observatory has published an HD-image captured on February 10 which was photographed by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. Click on the picture to see it in full format.

Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite image captured on February 10 - Courtesy NASA Earth Observatory - Click on the picture to see it in full size

Update 15/02 – 19:11 UTC
- 3 more earthquakes : we will from now on only change the number in the title.
Nobody knows what will happen next but CAP science center in La Restinga and IGN Madrid, who is following up the instruments via data link, will certainly be on a higher alert than normal.

Update 15/02 – 17:52 UTC
- 4 more earthquakes ! , which brings the total of listed earthquakes to 20 today, the most since many months !
- we have still a minimum HT signal which means that the eruption is still hoing
- NO jacuzzi or even stirring area anymore.

Important Update 15/02 – 15:23 UTC
- 2 great new Ramon Margalef documents (including the bathymetry data) which were the basis of the Pevolca press conference from yesterday (thank you ER reader Julian). Both are in Spanish and are very technical, but some easy conclusions can be distilled from it.
Informe de campaña BIMBACHE1011-9 / 2012
Informe 9‐12 de febrero de 2012. Bimbache1011 leg 10

Image courtesy IEO (Instituto Español de Oceanografia)

- 3 more earthquakes and even more to come
- Yesterday PEVOLCA changed his NO GO policy on the Tacaron coast, today Joke was one of the first persons to enjoy the new freedom. She likes that coast particularly well and used to swim there before. She is still making a selection of her pictures which will be published later today.

Update 15/02 – 12:54 UTC
- Sorry but it will be the first day since a long time that we cannot follow the number of earthquakes in detail. The reason :
Too many ! 13 have registered by IGN since midnight. The number will probably rise further today. The increase in earthquakes is probably the reason that Pevolca reported yesterday that : “magmatic reactivation” is going on. Next to the listed earthquakes AVCAN also reports a number of non-located micro earthquakes (small earthquakes which do not show up in the IGN lists, but who are part of the volcanic process).
- The emission point of the vent is continuously changing. Main reason will not be the vent itself, but the sea currents pushing the ash and gases towards the left and the right. It is very spectacular how these powerful sea currents are constantly changing !


Update 15/02 – 08:55 UTC
- Minimal but still continuing harmonic tremor
- NO jacuzzi and NO visible stain on the webcam this morning
- Nightly webcam views : only stars at the horizon
- 2 2+ earthquakes since midnight. 9 earthquakes already today
Date Time Depth Magn Epicenter
15/02/2012 01:50:54 7 1.4 W EL PINAR
15/02/2012 02:26:24 11 1.4 SW EL PINAR
115/02/2012 04:05:33 10 2.0 SW EL PINAR
15/02/2012 04:15:10 10 1.3 W EL PINAR
15/02/2012 05:02:09 12 1.3 W EL PINAR
15/02/2012 05:21:51 10 2.3 SW FRONTERA
15/02/2012 05:45:47 11 1.5 W EL PINAR
15/02/2012 06:28:28 12 0.8 W EL PINAR
15/02/2012 06:30:49 10 0.9 W EL PINAR
List earthquakes
- the numbers above are clear signs that the pressuring magma is more active than ever, which will make the near future very unsure. Why ? The current eruption flow is not big enough to keep the pressure from below at the same level (increasing number and strength of earthquakes). If HT remains at the current low amplitude, the number and magnitude of earthquakes will gradually build up to several tens per day until it finds a way out. The same vent ? Nobody knows. All scenarios are possible at that moment, also the complete stop of the eruption.

Update 14/02 – 23:22 UTC
- 3 more earthquakes, which brings the total so far today on 10.
14/02/2012 20:06:09 Depth 10 km M 1.3 SW EL PINAR
14/02/2012 22:11:31 Depth 10 km M 1.2 W FRONTERA
14/02/2012 23:45:11 Depth 10 km M 1.2 SW EL PINAR
- harmonic tremor still very low, causing a mainly degassing vent

Update 14/02 – 20:52 UTC
1 additional earthquake
14/02/2012 18:23 Depth 9 km M 1.6 SW EL PINAR

Update 14/02 – 16:45 UTC
- There has been an official communication [In Spanish] from the Government of Canary Islands that clarifies previous reports including an image from the bathymetry.
- “Eruption is still active, with a process of magmatic reactivation, constant vigilance will remain.
Scientists responsible of IOE, from Ramón Margalef, have confirmed to PEVOLCA that the depth of the main cone is 120 meters.
Also, from the bathymetry works done last week, scientists have recorded the emergence of a secondary cone attached to the side of the main cone having a height of 75 meters and whose summit is 200 meters from the surface.”

Bathymetry Map - Courtesy IEO - Instituto Oceanográfico Español

- “It is also apparent that the emission of material varies around the main summit. The area, East of El Julan, is the only place in which submarine volcanic activity has been detected in all surveyed areas, in the various campaigns.”

Update 14/02 – 15:38 UTC
- 2 new earthquakes since our last update
14/02/2012 12:51:26 Depth 11 km M 1.9 SW EL PINAR
14/02/2012 13:01:12 Depth 6 km M 2.2 W EL PINAR

Important Update 14/02 – 13:58 UTC
- ER reader Max just wrote in the comments section that local newspaper Canarias 7 cites PEVOLCA that 2 active cones have been detected (probably during the latest bathymetry from the Ramon Margalef) in the current area. One of the vents has a depth of 125 meter BUT the other one has a depth of ONLY 75 meter. Pevolcan also told Canarias7 that a magmatic reactivation is taking place … If true, a depth of 75 meter is considered by specialists as being able to start a Surtseyan phase if the eruption reactivates at full force (currently minor).
This news isn’t changing the danger for the area. The vents are far enough away from La Restinga to NOT cause any direct treat to the population.
Update after the initial important update : Confusion all over / The initial text of Canarias7 has been modified to “El cono principal tiene más de 300 metros de altura y se encuentra a 125 metros de la superficie. Y el segundo ha alcanzado ya una altura de 75 metros alturas.” A description almost nobody can translate for sure at present.
” The principal cone has more then 300 meter height and is currently at a depth of 125 meter (he seems to have collapsed a little bit compared to the earlier bathymetry – which is indeed possible). The second vent has grown to 75 meter. A simple calculations means that the second cone is at a depth of 35o meter ? – if we talk about the same base). It surely could have been communicated simpler. We will follow up further and will report it asap.
- PEVOLCA has also decided to open the Tacaron coast

Update 14/02 – 13:08 UTC
– The IGN personnel will have seen something special in the vent today as the Salvamar Adhara went out to the vent in a rough sea. We do not know yet whether SLS were found, but Joke will certainly tell us afterwards if this was the case. Below a screen capture from ER reader Penny showing the return to the La Restinga port of the Salvamar Adhara.

Update 14/02 – 10:45 UTC
- 1 new earthquake since our latest update
14/02/2012 08:23 Depth 14 km M 1.6 SW EL PINAR
- strong jacuzzi this morning. The current seem to have changed completely as the vent is still at the same location but the emitted material is now being carried to the left (east).
- Joke has already send a first batch of pictures this morning.

Update 14/02 – 08:55 UTC
- HT (harmonic tremor) has been at minimum all night
- The vent emission point is very visible on the webcam, although a strong surf is hampering visibility. Hopefully there are no SLS this morning because if the Salvamar Adhara would go out to the vent, it may lead to a very bad stomach feeling for the crew.
- 3 earthquakes since midnight UTC. Based on the location of the epicenters, we can conclude that the magma is till active and present from Frontera to the greater vent area to the south of La Restinga. The only difference with a couple of months ago, is that we have less earthquakes in the sea to the west of Frontera.
14/02/2012 00:42:01 Depth 17 km M 1.1 SW FRONTERA
14/02/2012 01:15:10 Depth 12 km M 1.6 W EL PINAR
14/02/2012 07:22:43 Depth 16 km M 1.1 SW EL PINAR

Update 14/02 – 00:17 UTC
- The UME emergency division has now completely left El Hierro. In case the volcano would suddenly decide to change his scenario, they will have to deploy again.
- A group of 7 dolphins has made an excursion along the corridor and was spotted at Las Playas. The coast guard told them to respect the 450 meter corridor.

Joke’s image for Valentine day !

Update 13/02 – 22:45 UTC
- INVOLCAN has just published two amazing videos of today’s flight:

- Here is the second video

- 2 new earthquakes while harmonic tremor remains very low.
This brings the total to 10 earthquakes today.
13/02/2012 20:10 Depth 10 km M 1.5 SW FRONTERA
13/02/2012 21:06 Depth 12 km M 1.5 W EL PINAR

Update 13/02 – 20:04 UTC
- 2 new earthquakes
13/02/2012 17:42 Depth 11 km M 1.5 SW EL PINAR
13/02/2012 18:03 Depth 10 km M 1.3 SW EL PINAR

Update 13/02 – 19:21 UTC
Enjoy today’s beautiful images as been photographed by Guardia Civil helicopteres and Involcan. We expect video later tonight.

All images courtesy and copyright Guardia Civil helicopeteres and Involcan


Update 13/02 – 17:08 UTC
Patrick Allard, a French volcanologist was invited by French Radio Network France Inter to tell the French audience about the El Hierro volcano. He and Jesús Gomez Gonzalo an IGN director were invited in Mathieu Vidard’s “La tête au carré“, a scientific radio program. Click here for the “Audio broadcast” (French). Thank you ER reader Jean-Patrick for telling us.
- HT is at “surviving” value right now.

Update 13/02 – 13:37 UTC
- 3 more earthquakes since the latest update
13/02/2012 08:51 Depth 6 km M 0.8 W FRONTERA
13/02/2012 10:16 Depth 16 km M 0.9 SW FRONTERA
13/02/2012 12:52 Depth 11 km M 0.6 W EL PINAR
- Joke Volta February 13 morning images. The seagull image is dedicated to Pam, who follows the birds in relation to the eruption like a dedicated scientist!

Update 13/02 – 09:34 UTC – 09:59 UTC
- 3 earthquakes so far today
13/02/2012 06:10 Depth 10 km M 1.1 SW EL PINAR
13/02/2012 07:41 Depth 10 km M 1.7 SW EL PINAR
13/02/2012 08:27 Depth 11 km M 1.8 W EL PINAR
- variable HT periods, the latest one rather subsiding to very minimal
- the behavior of the stain has less and less relation with the HT reading. One very big obstacle we have as “open source” followers, is that we cannot see HT in real time but only delayed by approx. 20 to 30 minutes.
- the center of the stain (gray pumice) is back to the location of the main vent (yesterday, we had multiple jacuzzi areas).
- we may expect new beautiful stain images tonight as we see the helicopter from the Guardia Civil and Involcan flying over the vent at 09:59.

Harmonic tremor from midnight to 9 AM - image courtesy IGN


Update 12/02 – 23:50 UTC
- Today we have seen a present jacuzzi through the whole day, even at early morning hours as captured in the webcam. Here is a time lapse from Julio del Castillo Vivero from 04:30 till 20:05 UTC showing a strong jacuzzi with also currents moving the stain. Speeds have been adjusted at different times of the day.

- 3 earthquakes since last update, making a total of 10 earthquakes today
12/02/2012 21:53 Depth 23 km M 1.4 W FRONTERA
12/02/2012 22:06 Depth 9 km M 1.6 W EL PINAR
12/02/2012 22:22 Depth 12 km M 1.1 W EL PINAR

Update 12/02 – 19:13 UTC
- Very strange jacuzzi today. The camera is still on the same mast, but the normal location of the jacuzzi is no longer the same. We seem to have multiple gas emission points this afternoon. Lets hope that Joke will have taken some pictures of the different locations.
- HT decreasing again after having had a strong period (see below)

HT graph from 01:00 until 19:30 UTC - image courtesy IGN

Update 12/02 – 13:33 UTC
- Joke Volta’s February 12 morning images. Some really beautiful images, once more
- Joke also detected the “mystery” sailing catamaran on top of the vent ! Probably someone who cannot count to 0.25 or 450 ! The catamaran does not look really oceanographic to us. Joke just told us that the catamaran was coming from Gomera, was filling the water tanks and were heading west to the America’s.

Mystery Catamaran above the vent

Update 12/02 – 13:09 UTC
– Just like yesterday, a powerful jacuzzi is presently stirring the Las Calmas sea
- HT had increased bit by bit and is presently at low medium levels
- 1 new earthquake : 12/02/2012 11:28 Depth 10 km M 2.0 SW EL PINAR

Update 12/02 – 09:44 UTC
- 6 earthquakes so far today. We have to mention, as ER reader Julian commented, that the depth of the earthquakes is getting shallower every day. The only question in all this is that some of these values are recalculated to “usual” depths later on. We do not see any conspiracy here, an erroneous instrument may be the reason. On top of the 2 soon after midnight, these are the 4 other earthquakes
12/02/2012 01:01 Depth 8 km M 1.1 SW FRONTERA
12/02/2012 02:48 Depth 10 km M 0.7 SE FRONTERA
12/02/2012 03:12 M 1.4 SW EL PINAR
12/02/2012 07:35 Depth 3 km M 0.8 W FRONTERA
- HT was very low until a little after 4, but gradually picked up after that. In general terms however, we consider it low (= small eruption flow)
- Stain is visible but no jacuzzi this morning
- Early this morning we saw an “unusual” ship on top of the stain.
- We want to express our special thanks to the webcam operator who is following instructions from AVCAN and Julio to zoom at night into a specific angle. We really appreciate all this.

Update 12/02 – 04:25 UTC
- Ramón Margalef has left the island according to vessel tracking websites. Until further notice, this has been the last mission in El Hierro for the IEO team.
Lets hope they will publish soon bathymetry data and graphs along with any possible footage obtained of the volcano.

- At this time of night we can observe a very big stain on the eruption webcam with some faint jacuzzi action! As captured by Julio del Castillo Vivero:

Update 12/02 – 01:35 UTC
- 2 Earthquakes since midnight, yesterday a total of 5.
12/02/2012 00:16 Depth 11 km M 1.5 SW FRONTERA
12/02/2012 00:18 Depth 10 km M 1.3 SW FRONTERA
- Harmomic tremor decreased from 16:00 UTC yesterday, but still alive now. Below a graph from IGN showing yesterday tremor:

Update 11/02 – 16:04 UTC
- Some spots in the sea may be misleading as they could be taken for new vents (like we had to admit earlier).
Time lapse video of the sunlight / fata morgana vent effect by Julio del Castillo Vivero.

Update 11/02 – 14:55 UTC
- The Ramon Margalef is again hanging around on the stain and very close to the main vent. Sporadically we see some action in the faint jacuzzi.

Update 11/02 – 13:53 UTC
- We have just published the morning batch of Joke Volta images. Click here to watch them in our picasaweb
- Due to the calm sea today, we could capture an image showing another vent more the the right of the present main vent. Are we sure about this ? Note entirely of course as the sun can suddenly throws some light on the sea, only in this case this jacuzzi had the same pattern than the main jacuzzi minutes earlier. Update 14:55 : After carefully viewing the Las Calmas sea, we have found similar ‘so called’ jacuzzi’s also deeper in the sea. We are convinced that those are sunlight jacuzzi’s, which makes it highly probable that also this was a sunlight jacuzzi (it has not repeated within a reasonable time after this image).

Click on the picture to see the time lapse of this other vent jacuzzi

Update 11/02 – 13:35 UTC
- We have been observing jacuzzis above vents of the volcano forming every few minutes lasting for a short period. Here is a screen shot captured by Julio del Castillo Vivero that shows a very strong episode, moments ago. Click on the image to see a time lapse of the moment.

Update 11/02 – 11:40 UTC
- Enjoying the new 450 meter freedom with an active volcano in the background.

Update 11/02 – 11:30 UTC
- Harmonic tremor continues to show medium low values. A stable but surely continuous eruption.
- Almost NO jacuzzi but a big very visible stain in the Las Calmas sea in front of La Restinga.
- 4 earthquakes so far today
11/02/2012 02:06 ND M 0.9 W FRONTERA
11/02/2012 05:23 Depth 10 km M 1.2 SW EL PINAR
11/02/2012 05:31 Depth 12 km M 1.2 SW EL PINAR
11/02/2012 10:10 Depth 13 km M 1.8 SW EL PINAR

Links to earlier parts of this extensive El Hierro eruption report :
(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) – (26/01 – 30/01) – (31/01 – 04/02) – Part 30 (05/02 – 10/02)

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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