El Hierro Volcano eruption (Canary Islands) : Part 12 – November 12 until November 15, 2011

This is Part 12 of the El Hierro Volcano eruption report


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Combined La Restinga and Eruption area webcam
With the collaboration of Joke Volta, an El Hierro resident.

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
Read also
: Part 1 (from July 28 until early September)
Read also: Part 2 (from September 25 until October 10 )
Read also: Part 3 (from October 11 until October 13 )
Read also: Part 4 (from October 14 until October 17 )
Read also: Part 5 (from October 18 until October 21 )
Read also: Part 6 (from October 22 until October 26 )
Read also: Part 7 (from October 27 until October 31 )
Read also: Part 8 (from November 1 until November 3
Read also: Part 9 (from November 4 until November 6
Read also: Part 10 (from November 7 until November 8)
Read also: Part 11 (from November 9 until November 11)
Read also: Part 12 (from November 12 until November 15)
Read also: Part 13 (from November 16 until November 19)
Read also: Part 14 (from November 20 until November 23)
Read also: Part 15 (from November 24 until November 27)

Data Update 15/11 - 22:13
- A day with an increasing number of strong earthquakes (5 earthquakes were felt by the people);
- Strongest ones : 3.4, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.0
- continuing very strong harmonic tremor
- unchanged depth between 16 and 25 km

Update 15/11 - 22:00
Joke has been all day in La Restinga. Besides the usual visits to some friends, she also inspected a lot of very complicated installations in search for the webcam 🙂 and paid a visit to the scientists who are guarding the village against the evil powers of the volcano. We will set up a public image account shortly.

Update 15/11 - 17:13 - La Restinga Webcam saga (continued)
- To the Cabildo of El Hierro, Telefonica and Movistar
On behalf of our (complaining) readers : Please change the "Erupciónwebcamera" with an High Definition Web camera, which is installed on a stable mast, house, etc. The current image is useless as we cannot see details and as the camera vibrates too much. We almost get seasick looking at the image!
If Telefonica and Movistar (both multi-billion companies) are standing for Quality (what we believe they do), changing the current webcam and installing it onto a stable mast can't be that difficult.

Data Update 15/11 - 13:24 UTC :
- since midnight UTC 14 earthquakes greater than M 1.5 occurred at El Hierro.
- except one, all of the earthquakes occurred NW of Frontera
- the depth of the hypocenter was ranging from 16 km (shallowest) to 25 (deepest)
- the strongest earthquake happened at 08:52, had an epicenter in the El Golfo bay close to the beach and had a magnitude of 3.4
- harmonic tremor is still very strong and gets even stronger as IGN had to scale down the amplitude tremor in the hourly graph.

Harmonic tremor grapg from midnight UTC until 14:00 - image courtesy IGN

Update 15/11 - 13:03 UTC :
The satellite company RapidEye has uploaded a new HD-satellite image taken on November 13. The November 13 picture is not disclosing a lot of additional details. NO brown or dark grey stains above vents as seen in the older images. The many different grey stain areas are shadows from the clouds above.  The only place where we suspect that it is a vent is the white patch in front of La Restinga. We once again want to send our congratulations to the RapidEye company in offering these images to the many interested readers in the world (also thanks to  Antonio Silva in telling us that the image was published)

November 13 RapidEye image - image courtesy and copyright Rapideye.net

Update 15/11 - 12:16 UTC :
People watching the activity at the Naos mountain (Montaña Naos), 150 meter above the sea

Montaña Naos (Naos mountain) - Image courtesy Christina and Antonio, astronomers

Update 15/11 - 11:15 UTC :
It seems the fishes are recovering around La Restinga, there is a local lady from La Restinga going around to look for them each day. While you still see some dead (but long dead) fishes in the harbour, there are a lot of little ones swimming around. In a small “refuge” in waters east of the harbour, under some sort of lava cave (the place had a name and a sign, but I forgot), there are a lot of large fishes. Hope seems to be coming back to La Restinga. We wish those people all the best! (report send from Antonio and Christina - see below)

Christina and Antonio, astronomer scientists, are reporting from El Hierro (they flew to El Hierro after hearing from the eruption and being on a holiday) :

Hi, I posted some more pictures from yesterday here:

Most of the day, we went to El Golfo and then, while having lunch, overheard a conversation in a bar in La Frontera that the volcano was spitting smoke and stones, so we finished and rushed to the other side of the island. We came towards the end of the afternoon episode and arrived at the viewpoint around 17:00. Already driving down from El Pinar I spotted the smoke on the water, the (guardia civil) ship close to the “action” and the sailboat further out along the southern coast. There were a lot of people at the viewpoint and 2 TV teams. The Guardia Civil helicopter also started to fly around the eruption site around that time, so the picture you posted is likely from that time.

We also have one video, where you see some smoking stones coming to the surface and the Guardia Civil ship next to it. Sorry for the shaking, the wind at the viewpoint is quite strong (the camera was on a tripod). A low resolution version is also on the picture page, the original HD-video is 0.5GB.

We thought the ship was dangerously close, as you see in the video, they must have been at most like 10m away from the vents, I hope they got at least some good pictures. :-p If you look at the position of the smoke compared to the ship there were at least 2 vents out of which the stones were coming. Also, we noted that the jacuzzi, which was the center of the stains from Sunday, is still present but further to the right of the smoking stone places, so this must be a third vent, maybe further under the water or ejecting different material.

We stayed until sunset, took Joke up to El Pinar and then came back later at night when the moon was up, around 22.30. Unfortunately, there was not much activity going on, but the usual stain was visible, even with the naked eye. It was still a beautiful scenery.

Even when visiting an active volcano, an astronomer has a love for the stars - image courtesy Christina and Antonio

YouTube video courtesy Christina and Antonio

Update 15/11 - 10:54 UTC :
- Joke is filling in a few more details on what we see in the webcam. As Joke is on the Naos mountain, about 150 meter above the sea, she sees more distinction in the coloring.
- at this moment she sees NO jacuzzi and NO ejected pumice or other magmatic material, but a clear brown stain surrounded by a blue / green color sea area

Data Update 15/11 - 09:10 UTC :
- Joke Volta reports from El Pinar, where she lives, that the stain is still very visible from there
- the appearing and disappearing whites on the webcam are tumbling waves and NOT smoking stones !

Data Update 15/11 - 08:43 UTC :
- Nothing special to report this morning
- few earthquakes since midnight (13 in total)
- 8 earthquakes reached 1.5 magnitude or higher
- continuing strong harmonic tremor but with very few bursts. this will probably be noticeable on the webcam where contrary to yesterday, only a limited stain area can be seen. No fumerole action within the stain however.

Update 14/11 - 23:10 UTC :

Update 14/11 - 23:00 UTC :

Image of the activity of today - image courtesy Involcan and Guardia Civil

Guardia Civil helicopter took a picture from their friends in the Guardia Civil ship which is navigating towards the activity area

Update 14/11 - 19:21 UTC :
Rudy, resident at El Pinar is reporting a 15 minute lasting wobbling vibration.

Update 14/11 - 18:39 UTC :
Due to the strong harmonic tremor, IGN had to rescale the graph at 15:46 UTC (click here to see the graph).

Update 14/11 - 18:00 UTC :
- PEVOLCA has decided (to the great surprise of the Herrenos) that the population of La Restinga can sleep at home again
- Pevolca has also decided to declare the southern coast as NO GO area (probably due to the current activity and the sulfur smell Joke reported earlier on)
- the activity has subsided a bit (less smoke on the webcam too), but a lonesome hot stone arrived on the surface much closer to La Restinga (comment Joke a few moments ago)

Update 14/11 - 17:20 UTC :
Alpidio Armas, president of the Cabildo de El Hierro and Verónica Montero, chief tourism of El Hierro have welcomed the  cruiseship Kristina Katarina today. Aboard 100 crew and 286 Finnish tourists. This can be called an extraordinary cruise trip. Visiting the (safe) port of a volcano (La Estaca) with boiling magma underneath is certainly not an everyday experience!

Update 14/11 - 16:56 UTC :
- A very special sea battle of presumably the Guardia Civil boat and a sailing ship who wants to be near the vent. Maybe without knowing that it sailed through a NO GO area ! (watched on the webcam and confirmed by Joke).
- The Guardia Civil boat is now very near the vent. Looks like military people are needed to do these jobs !

Christina and Antonio, the star gazing scientists, are sharing this beautiful picture from yesterday with our readers

Click on the picture to watch it in a bigger size

Update 14/11 - 16:21 UTC :
The ship from the Guardia Civil is leaving the La Restinga port (and is probably  heading for the eruption area). These trips are more and more risky as the power of a volcano cannot be predicted at 100%.
- The ejection of hot material is easy to see on the webcam now

Update 14/11 - 16:19 UTC :
We had to cut a big part of the current page as it became to heavy to load. All updates from November 9 until November 11 are now contained in Part 11, see link above

Update 14/11 - 14:40 UTC :
- Joke reports an increase of the temperature at the Naos mountain (ER : not necessarily because of the activity)
- She also sees stones ejected above the water surface.
- The helicopter of the Guardia Civil and Involcan is flying over the sea
- RTVE is also present (footage probably tonight on TV)
- Earthquake-report.com has expected the current activity based on the first eruption pattern. In our Data Update 13/11 - 22:39 UTC update we have explained why.

Volcanic activity @ La Restinga

Update 14/11 - 14:24 UTC :
- Joke reports a strong sulfur smell at the Naos mountain. The bus driver who took her there said that he saw some stones ejected out of the water.
- A few moments after receiving this news, Joke also mentioned stones ejected out of the water (she is looking at the stain with her binoculars). She also sees as small turbulent source and a brown stain (magmatic material ?)
- The reports of Joke and the Bus driver are confirming our 13:34 update
- Joke reports a Jacuzzi at 14:26 UTC (this can unfortunately not be seen on the webcam probably due to the backlight)

Update 14/11 - 13:34 UTC :
- The activity of the vent could clearly be seen on the webcam during the last 15 minutes. At the right end of white area, regular small amounts of steam or fumes can be noticed. In a few rare cases the material is ejected and falls back into the sea, in some other cases it looks to be steam from hot stones ejected to the surface.
- Joke is now on her way to montaña Naos and will be able to explain what she sees.

Update 14/11 - 14:00 UTC : Relation harmonic tremor bursts and the webcam images
Below an attempt to explain the relation in between de bursts of the harmonic tremor graph with what can be seen on the webcam. Carefully look at the video when the webcam clock shows 13:28 tot 13:31. The burst in the graphic below also occurs at that time. We know that the action is minimal but this is mainly due to the resolution of the webcam. Hopefully a better example later this afternoon.

Hamonic tremor graph on November 14 - image courtesy IGN

11:34 UTC : The following comment arrived this morning and we are happy to share it with our readers.

My boyfriend and I are on El Hierro for the next few days for tourism since we were already in the region for a congress on La Palma later this week. We have both never been here before, but the volcano made us want to go even more (not less)! We are both scientists, unfortunately the “wrong” ones, we are looking at the stars and not the Earth ;-) .
We have been following your webpage for a while and it’s the best source around on the web, congratulations!!

We met Joke Volta (hi Joke! :-) ) yesterday in the early afternoon at the viewing spot and had a nice chat. As reported, there was some activity going on yesterday but not too much. There seems to have have been two major episodes, one from an eruption around 13:00 and some activity around 16:00. From a higher view point, like on the road to El Julan, the stains in the water from the different eruptions can be seen as concentric circles of differently colored water around where there must be the eruption vent. I don’t know if it is still the same vent since the first circle started to appear outside the pre-colored water, but that might only be an effect of streams in the sea. I could not match either the activity with larger “spikes” in the IGN seismogram, aren’t they supposed to correlate somehow?
We did not notice any bad smell in La Restinga in the afternoon as some locals reported earlier.

I posted some pictures here, if anyone is interested:
We will keep watching the volcano as long as we are here!

We also want to say that feel very sorry for the local people, especially the ones from La Restinga who are deprived from their main sources of income. It is also very sad that people do not come to this beautiful island any more because of some stains in the water and all the excitement in the media. It is really not dangerous here, the volcano is watched at the moment as probably no other one in the world right now and nothing is going to happen from one minute to the other. The earthquakes are not noticable either. So please, people, come back here for holidays and enjoy the special atmosphere on this peaceful island!!

Two astronomers (German and Spanish) from Granada

Data Update 14/11 - 09:00 UTC :
- The Telefonica technicians (see update 08:40) are currently working on the webcam. We have a great image on the eruption stain. Gracias on behalf of our readers.

Data Update 14/11 - 08:45 UTC :
- 11 M+1.5 earthquakes since midnight UTC
- Strongest earthquake M 3.2 (felt by the Herrenos (Herrenos is the way people from the island are called)
- depth of the earthquake in between 16 and 21 km
- location of the epicenters (see small avcan map at right)
- harmonic tremor graph : decrease of the signal since yesterday 11 AM - rescaling at 23:00 - further decrease of the signal at approx. 04:00 today.

Update 14/11 - 08:40 UTC :
- Jokes early morning report :
* The stain looks fairly similar as yesterday from El Pinar (500 meter above the Las Calmas sea) but is a little more pronounced than yesterday.
* I have just met 2 Telefonica technicians on their way to the La Restinga webcams ; their mission : stabilizing it (too much vibrations due to the wind as we could all sea) + improve the quality of the image + Joke gave the technicians the advise to host with VIPwordpress.com :), a server setup to cope with huge amounts of concurrent users
* now she wrote us, i need a coffee!

Update 14/11 - 07:45 UTC :
- Looking at the webcam this morning, our little prediction from 22:39 yesterday seems to be right (although not in timing). New regular activity of the vent south of La Restinga.
- Due to the wind, it is hard to see whether there is some turbulence in the stain or not. While foam waves can give the false feeling of turbulence.

Data Update 13/11 - 23:51 UTC :
- SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emission has drastically dropped since high valued were measured on November 6.
An increase in sulphur dioxide emissions can reflect rising magma. Likewise, a sudden decline in sulphur dioxide emissions following a period of rapid increase can suggest some blockage which may result in the build up of pressure.

Sulfur dioxide emissions from November 6 to November 12 - image courtesy Involcan and Guardia Civil

Data Update 13/11 - 22:39 UTC :
- very few earthquakes today : 15 > M 1.5, only 16 in total, which is the least since the period that ended on October 19.  Only the October 11 to October 19 period had the same low number of earthquakes and yes, that period was exactly the time of the Jacuzzis preceded by the forming of a stain.
- 3 earthquakes were felt by the Herrenos today. The depth is between 14 and 23 km, nothing to worry about?
Time for a little prediction :  As Joke told us earlier today that she saw regularly grey colored water rising to the surface surrounded by the greenish stain, we had today an almost similar situation than during the October 10 and October 11 eruption. If the same pattern is followed in this phase, we will have Jacuzzi working within 2 to 3 days. We admit, it is only a prediction based on very few data, but merely by looking into the earthquakes / sea action who started at October 9.
- The reason why there is only a vent to the south of El Pinar and not to the north, is that the Las Calmas area was the ONLY area on the island having a number of very shallow earthquakes.

Rescaling of the harmonic tremor graphs
A lot of people reading the IGN graphs are sometimes asking themselves why the graphs are suddenly changing in height. Besides the action of the volcano itself, the IGN volcanologists and seismologists have to change the scale a little if the graph lines are constantly reaching the ceiling of the scale. This rescaling can mostly be seen by the blue (thin or thick) line showing up in the frequency part of the page.
So, please be sure that rescaling is purely done (stronger and weaker) to obtain the best possible view on what is happening.

A comment from a reader worthwhile pasting it here : Rescaling of the IGN graphs has been a recurrent issue  lately. Please note  that when rescaling of the graph for El Hierro is actually done, then the Graphs for all the other graphs of IGN stations  in the Canary Islands will continue unchanged, as due to the lesser signal they are smaller in size anyway. The last two suspected rescalings however showed a decreased signal for  the neighbouring islands as well. So I conclude that in this case NO rescaling was done and that the harmonic tremor suddenly decreased. Please compare the graphs before alleging a rescaling.

Data Update 13/11 – 12:20 UTC :
- Joke reports ups and downs. NO jacuzzi, but a brownish stain coming up now and then. NO magmatic material (at least not visible) in the stain area.
- The stain coloring cannot be seen on the webcam. Joke stands 150 meter above the sea level and has a better view over the sea.

Data Update 13/11 – 12:15 UTC :  Webcam live again (eruption camera not stable - wind instability or technicians working on it)

Data Update 13/11 – 10:38 UTC :
- Joke has arrived at the Naos viewpoint and reports that a new stain is forming approx. or on the location of the former jacuzzi. The new stain is brownish at the inside , green at the ourskirts and a layer of foam at the edge.
- she also says that people currently in La Restinga are reporting a strong gas smell

Data Update 13/11 – 10:27 UTC :
- 10 (volcanic) earthquakes since midnight. The strongest one being a 2.7 magnitude earthquake.
- The depth varying from 18 to 23 km (only -10 km depth would be a very important new event)
- GPS deformation (the change of the surface because of the pressure of the magma) is relatively unchanged, which is one of the indications (in combination with harmonic tremor) that the eruption i probably still going on.

The La Restinga webcam saga (continued)
- Unless you are one of the lucky ones still having the webcam image, we do not see anything anymore except a turning circle and Connecting ...
- Joke just told us that the village voice said that it was overloaded again
- are we then the only ones in the world to know that such a webcam server and supporting lines have to support a couple of 100,000 people !
- The VIP wordpress.com server structure has been especially designed to cope with huge amounts of concurrent users. One could expect from a company like Telefonica to be more market sensitive. And the current number of users is only the beginning. If the world mainstream press would start talking about El Hierro, much higher numbers will be reached.
- so, please, please, please ... try to find a responsible who has experience in dealing with huge number of concurrent users.

Earthquake-Report.com and images
One of the main problems for earthquake-report.com is that we have NO money at all to use the main press image providers like AP, REUTERS, AFP, EPA, GETTY etc. As a poor organization we are trying to find some material here and there always referring to the owners or probable owners of the picture.
We were very surprised yesterday to find public pictures from the Guardia Civil and Involcan showing up elsewhere in the world as © EPA .No further comment.

Update 13/11 – 00:05 UTC
- Some amateur followers are convinced that a new vent has opened in the El Golfo area. Depending on the depth of

Update 12/11 – 23:25 UTC
- The political parties at El Hierro have decided NOT to campaign for the elections to be held next week. Their decision has been taken to avoid controversy.
- Some people are feeling very bad because they have to ask for food at the authorities. A lot of families are really in bad shape at the island and have nothing left.
- A steel fence has been installed at the end of the Los Roquillos tunnel to catch rocks and stones in cases of landslides and rockfall.
- Although there was NO jacuzzi yesterday, new fine eruptive material has been reported in the Las Calmas sea by the Guardia Civil and Involcan
- Volcanologists are still convinced that an eruptive vent may appear in the El Golfo area. They are monitoring the seismographs constantly to detect eventual shallow earthquakes.
- Only one earthquake occurred from 15:59 UTC until 21:29 UTC. It measured 2.3.
- Magma is very active below the island. Harmonic tremor is still very strong with irregular bursts

Update 12/11 – 17:22 UTC
- We see a lot of activity on the harmonic tremor graphs today, but nothing visually at the surface
- The strongest earthquake so far today occurred recently at 15:59 UTC at a depth of 19 km and had a magnitude of 3.1 (location below)

Location on the 3.1 magntude earthquake on November 12 @ 15:59 UTC - image courtesy IGN

Update 12/11 – 14:22 UTC
- Joke just met the La Provincia journalist in El Pinar and he said "nothing to see down there" (in Spanish)
- the price of the so called lava stones found after the start of the eruption, also called Restringolitas,  has fallen considerably
- Joke just spoke to a friend in El Pinar who told her that she informed Alpidio Armas, the president of El Hierro, that his webcam was pointed in the wrong direction (like we had mentioned earlier). Mr. Armas must have given orders to redirect it a little bit as they are currently working on it.

Update 12/11 - 12:36 UTC  :
- Joke Volta sees from El Pinar the same than we can see on the webcam. Sometimes an active area and a few minutes later a flat sea. She will go to the "press viewpoint" later this afternoon. The "press viewpoint" is open to all public until the sun goes behind the horizon.

Update 12/11 - 11:57 UTC  :
- As followers from the first hour and trying to do the best for our readers and for the people of El Hierro, we have created a page containing both webcams.  Click here to see the combined webcam page

Update 12/11 - 11:22 UTC :
- The "eruption webcam" has been moved to the left, although the activity spot is more to the right (and is now at the right edge of the screen). Why ? We don't know whether it has been due to human intervention or not.

Update 12/11 - 10:11 UTC :
- as we have nothing else to do on a Saturday, we can endlessly look at the Las Calmas sea in front of La Restinga .... and yes, a new faint activity area is forming .... or it may be imagination of course. Keep both this page and your webcam open for the combination of (important) news and the LIVE coverage of the stain / jacuzzi's.
We have to remind people that the building up of the vents towards the surface can take a long time. The chance that you will fall asleep watching the Las Calmas sea when the most important event happens will be quite high :).

Update 12/11 - 09:07 UTC :
- 13 volcanic earthquakes since midnight.
- NO earthquakes stronger than 3.0
- Harmonic tremor is still present with regular powerful bursts
- The lack of powerful earthquakes and the continuing strong harmonic tremor are indicating (on the basis of the recent activity) that a new vent  might have been opened at a deeper location, not showing any jacuzzi or serious turbulence. The first eruption period had similarities with the present  situation. Recent satellite images would certainly reveal this kind of eruption.

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.