A quick exposure-risk picture of what could be affected should a full blown eruption occur
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)
Capelinhos, Azores, Portugal (1957-1958)
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)