El Hierro Volcano eruption : Economic impact on El Hierro and the Canary Islands if an aerial eruption would occur

A quick exposure-risk picture of what could be affected should a full blown eruption occur

El Hierro Island has 10,960 inhabitants producing a GDP per capita of around 8000 euros, the equivalent of around 88 million Euros.

The economy is sustained via livestock (goats, sheep and cattle – milk for cheese), agriculture (fruits and wine), fishing (tuna etc.) and tourism (not as great as the rest of the Canary Islands – they do mostly rural/adventure tourism and have around 2000 beds.

La Restinga is the main port for fishing,  already strongly affected by the eruption. Water temperatures in the vicinity of the volcano / port have been measured at 35.3 degrees instead of the usual 24 degrees and the poisoned water has killed almost all marine life near the port.

Livestock (as seen in previous eruptions, especially in Iceland) can be killed if fluoride poisoning occurs of water sources.

The rest of the Canary Islands relies greatly on tourism (32% of the GDP) and could be affected significantly if El Hierro is to produce an aerial eruption. Tourism accounts for around 14 billion Euros of the 43.248 billion Euro GDP.

Over 9 million tourists visit the Canary Islands each year, with around 16.9 million people moving through the 8 airports each year (around 46300 people a day). Should all the airports be out for a week at anytime, the predicted loss in GDP would be around 400 million Euros in tourism losses.

As much of the other GDP is centralized on the islands, limited losses would occur in other sectors, apart from directly affected losses in the livestock, fishing and agriculture sector.

What is also interesting is that a €54 million project is currently being undertaken on El Hierro to create a 11MW wind farm and two hydroelectric projects using an extinct volcano to be the first island around the world to have complete energy self-sufficiency. Water release from the extinct volcano (when pumped up 700m), will create 11.3 MW. This system is expected to save €4 million.

It is unknown how much this would be affected.

Tsunami risk we will not mention at this point, however there is always the chance of underwater landslides, on-shore landslides through seismic activity.

Wind for El Hierro can be seen in the last 18 hours here.

It can be seen that at the moment, winds are favourable with winds blowing from the north to the south. This means that should there be an aerial eruption, the other islands in the Canaries would not be significantly affected by the resulting ash cloud.

In fact, the general wind direction is a NNE-northerly, meaning that it is unlikely that for the month of November there could be a major ash impact on the rest of the islands. We thank windfinder.com  and recommend their service.

Some historic underwater eruptions

Didicas volcano (1773, 1862, 1900, 1952)

Image courtsey Phivolcs - Philippines

Capelinhos, Azores, Portugal (1957-1958)

Image courtsy Rafaela 7°A and http://nacopadasarvores.blogspot.com/2010/05/vulcao-dos-capelinhos.html

Surtsey (1963, ngdc.noaa.gov)

Fukutoku-Okanoba on 21 January 1986 (Japan, Smithsonian Institute, http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0804-13=&volpage=var)

Image courtesy Smithsonian Institution and volcano.si.edu



  1. Some of the fishing off El Hierro is for oceanic mackerel,sardines, squid and tuna so will no be affected by the death of inshore fish caused by the vents.

  2. Rudy Bourgeois says

    I am watching the events from Tanajara nmirador, where I live as a Belgian expat. That is: Exactly at the mirador where I see the Jacuzzi. . I know Joke. We are neighbour's in El Pinar.

    I suppose and hope the vulcano will subside without mayor eruption in a few month's. time at most.

  3. Terry Horne says

    Watching the developments at El Hierro from Cape Canaveral, Fl. and hoping the events remain minor for all the local folks sake.
    Also watching the events to be aware here!

  4. veronica dominguez says

    After reading about the eruption of the African Volcano, NYAMURAGIRA, the impact of Energy on the Systems of Volcanos in my opinion, will have an adverse effect on other world volcanos.

    Living near Volcanos is very dangerous. Especially when you have live video coverage available to the public.

    The Ripple Effect of One Volcano, can "Trigger a Massive World Wide Eruption".

    Especially when we have earthquake reports to prove the; the Train Coming, get out of the way.

    the best to you.


    • Rudy Bourgeois says

      No reason for any panic, this seems to be a surtseyana vulcan, or so I hope it proves to be.