El Hierro Volcano eruption (Canary Islands) : Part 61 – December 25 until December 31, 2013

This is Part 61 of the El Hierro Volcano eruption report


You may follow also Facebook Volcano PageGoogle+ Volcanoes – Twitter : @VolcanoReport
With the collaboration of Joke Volta, an El Hierro resident and Julio del Castillo Vivero, photographer.
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) – (05/02 – 10/02) – (11/02 – 16/02) – (17/02 – 23/02) – (24/02 –29/02) – (1/03 – 10/03) – (11/03 – 18/03) - (19/03 - 23/03) - (24/03 - 28/03) - (29/03 - 03/04) - (04/04 - 10/04) - (11/04 – 21/04) - (22/04 – 30/04) - (01/05 – 10/05) - Part 43 (11/05 – 31/05) - (01/06 – 14/06) - (15/06 – 24/06) - (25/06 – 26/06) – (27/06 – 28/06) – (29/06 – 01/07) - (02/07 – 06/07) – (07/07 – 31/07) - (01/08 – 31/08) - (01/09 – 11/09) - (12/09 – 30/09) - (01/10 – 15/12) - Part 55 (16/12 – 16/03) - Part 56 (16/03 – 26/03) - Part 57 (27/03 - 30/03) - Part 58 (31/03 - 12/08) - Part 59 (13/08 - 30/11) - Part 60 (1/12 - 25/12) - Part 61 (25/12 - 31/12)

Useful links : El Hierro Picasa Photo Album

2013-12-31 17:47 UTC

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 18.46.45

2013-12-31 08:52 UTC
What we had expected last night was confirmed this morning by the new deformation data : a general subsidence (deflation) of the island (remark : a couple of signals - HI01 and HI10 - were not updated).
Frontera had a 1 day deflation of 4 cm!.
Yesterday we saw the last tremor disappear from various seismographs. Tremor is the indication that magma is moving somewhere below the island.
The 2 new earthquakes have no special meaning as they will be probably generated by deformation stress and not by magma stress or movement. This will certainly happen more the next few days.
How long will it take to the next crisis ? Nobody knows as it can happen tomorrow or next year, but scientists are convinced that more activity periods will follow.
We were once again happily surprised by the many people following this crisis via earthquake-report.com. We will continue this report also in the future. Please continue to send a comment when you see something irregular on one of the seismographs.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 09.44.45 Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 09.50.59 Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 09.51.18

2013-12-30 19:29 UTC
Only 2 earthquakes in the M5.1 area.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.27.49

2013-12-30 08:03 UTC
NO more earthquakes, very calm graphs but again spectacular deformation charts.
Deformations are giving a totally changed pattern this morning. The Southern areas are subsiding. The eastern central area is stabilizing BUT the western central and northern areas are inflating (western area very strong). HI10 (El Julan) has no data for the second day in a row. The changing deformation pattern shows the biggest magma movement below the island concentrating in the El Golfo area (Sabinosa to Frontera) and is an additional sign that the crisis isn't over yet.
The strongest deformation today is noted in Sabinosa (GPS station HI03) where the ground was lifted 3 cm in less than 24 hours. The station HI04 (slightly west of HI03 (see map) has however stabilized data.
This crisis will only end when the deformations are stabilizing everywhere.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 09.11.25

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 00.10.33 Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 09.14.39

2013-12-29 23:34 UTC
2 earthquakes listed at IGN, but merely aftershocks of the M5.1 mainshock and far out in the sea.
Just a short note to tell our readers that Etna volcano in Sicily is currently erupting. You can follow the eruption in this webcam. Enjoy.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 00.35.51

2013-12-29 16:54 UTC
No more earthquakes since our morning update and no abnormal tremor on the seismograph(s).
No new GPS reading so far of the Uni of Nagoya/Involcan deformation measurement at El Pinar.
The Modis Terra satellite image was clear today and showed no abnormalities.

2013-12-29 09:28 UTC
An earthquake free night at El Hierro.
No increased tremor after an initial increase yesterday evening.
New IGN GPS deformation data are in, and are showing a first notable increase in the North of the island of about 1 cm (HI01, HI00 and FRON), areas which had almost no lifting so far.
The South-eastern part (La Restinga and El Pinar HI08 and HI09) are showing slight increases (Please note that HI10 or El Julan did not get new data today).
The only part of the island where a small subsidence has been noted is the HI03 (Sabinosa) and HI04 (Lighthouse) or generally speaking the western edge of the island.
Horizontal deformations : strongest change is a 1 cm North-East push at HI01.
Locations of the GPS stations : see location map below.
With a new increase in the north, the magma below the island hasn't decided yet to go away.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.13.32

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.18.50

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.05.41

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.06.28

2013-12-28 23:19 UTC
These is the updated earthquake list.
The epicenter of the extremely shallow 2 km earthquake is located in the seismic zone which is active since this crisis. A couple of such earthquakes have started BOB, the jacuzzi on top of the new crater in the Las Calmas sea. This earthquake can however well be a "stress" earthquake generated by the deformations of the island. We will have to wait until daylight before we will have a conclusive outcome. We are 100% sure that there is NO magma output as the tremor on the seismographs is not enough to justify this.


Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 00.12.22

The green arrow is the epicenter of the M1.9 - 2 km depth earthquake.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 00.08.59

Our friends of AVCAN have published a picture who shows the kind of rocks who came down from the slopes after the shaking of the Magnitude 5.1 earthquake. If you happen to be on that road when this happens you would be very lucky to survive it !

Image courtesy Avcan

Image courtesy Avcan

2013-12-28 19:19 UTC
The authorities have called a Yellow alert weather status for the coastal areas of most of the islands. Strong winds and heavy surf are expected from 18:00 today at least until tomorrow. The thicker seismograph line on the seismograph may be related to this bad weather.

2013-12-28 18:43 UTC
We do not know what is happening, but most stations are showing a gradually thicker tremor line. Nothing to be afraid of as this is certainly not eruption linked but it may be moving magma. Even the very insensitive CTIG is showing the thicker graph line. This kind of thicker line may also be weather related, but we are not aware of any bad weather at El Hierro.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 19.39.01

2013-12-28 16:54 UTC
Unfortunately too much clouds above the islands and the ocean onb the Modis Aqua satellite image. If you want to see it in full size, click on the picture.
Nothing else to report at this moment.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 17.52.45

2013-12-28 13:25 UTC
We request a local (accredited) journalist to ask IGN at the occasion of the next interview why the website is showing the seismograph located at CHIE (since a couple of days however CTIG), where nothing can be seen. CTIG is located in the area who has the least deformation of the island. We are (also) curious to get the answer.

2013-12-28 13:11 UTC
The first satellite image (Modis Terra satellite) has too much clouds above yesterday's epicenter area to determine color differences in the ocean (the ocean is colored light blue on this location, but these spots are probably clouds). There is another satellite image coming shortly from the Modis Aqua satellite. So hang on to see the latest details.
Click on the image to see it in full size (your computer will need some time to load it!)

NASA Modis Terra satellite image from December 28

NASA Modis Terra satellite image from December 28

2013-12-28 10:26 UTC
No new data to report but we hope that we will be able to have a clear satellite picture a little later. We are curious to have a look at the ocean water of yesterday's quakes. These were relatively shallow (there was one at 8 km depth (the depth of the ocean floor in this area is approx. 3 km)). We remind our readers that the coloring of the see with toxic ingredients started in 2011 before the shallow eruption earthquakes occurred. When the NASA MODIS pictures are available, we will bring them to you.

2013-12-28 08:58 UTC
No more spectacular earthquakes during the nightly hours.
The New deformation data is showing a somewhat identical picture than yesterday. Stabilizing (or slightly increasing) horizontal and vertical deformations in the El Golfo area and mid-Island stations BUT continued lifting and/or horizontal movement of the El Pinar and La Restinga GPS stations. Lets hope IGN or PEVOLCA will give their views on this in a report later today.
New today is the HI10 station (until today, HI10 was not present on the deformation maps). HI10 (El Julan area) shows the same strong increase than El Pinar and La Restinga, even more as the total lifting deformation since the beginning of this crisis is 10 cm!
What does this mean ? It means that there is still a magma source below the south-eastern part of the island, but without generating earthquakes.
Something else we suggest is that, because of the stabilized western GPS stations, IGN was right in stating that the strong earthquake from yesterday afternoon may have no direct relation with the lifting of HI08, HI09 and HI10.
Does the continued south-eastern deformation will lead to more earthquakes in that part of the island - not necessarily as even more lifting in other places did not necessarily led to earthquakes neither. One additional reason to say this is that, though the lifting was strong at El Pinar, La Restinga and El Julan, only the greater El Pinar area lived through a swarm of earthquakes.
The next hours and days will be "tension" days as everybody will be searching for more clues.
Geofon Germany has published the focal mechanism of the M5.1 earthquake and this shows a strike-slip earthquake (see image below)

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 00.10.33

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.20.30 Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.20.45 Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.22.44 Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.23.04

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.35.18

Focal mechanism of the M5.1 earthquake as reported by GEOFON, Germany


2013-12-28 01:56 UTC
Another relatively strong M3.3 at 12 km depth earthquake struck the same area than the previous quakes.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 02.54.38

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 02.58.37

2013-12-28 00:04 UTC
We see a further decrease of seismicity on the seismographs. Let's hope that the islanders may have a silent and quiet night. Nobody can give any guarantee of course but with the earthquakes weakening and occurring 15 to 20 km out in the sea, there is no immediate reason to think otherwise.

2013-12-27 23:59 UTC
We estimated the last earthquake to be an approximate 4. We now get the report that it is calculated as a M3.6 at a depth of 10 km. Epicenter location in the same area as the M5.1 (EMSC data). IGN reports the same Magnitude but at a depth of 20 km. Epicenter a few km south of the M5.1.

2013-12-27 23:54 UTC
The image below shows the latest set of IGN listed earthquakes (the last strong one is not included yet). As you can see, the depth of the Ocean floor is at the location in between the 2500 and 3500 meter. The latest earthquakes are the Red and purple triangles and squares.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 00.53.42

2013-12-27 23:47 UTC
IGN said in an interview to Diario El Hierro tonight that they are far from convinced that the M5.1 earthquake from this afternoon was the result of magma intrusion but that the origin of the big earthquake may have been the result of the accumulated deformation and pre-existing fractures.
ER : we trust IGN on their analysis, as they are specialized people having much more data than we can see in the public forum. A lot of questions remain however which will probably be answered on a later date.

2013-12-27 23:36 UTC
The civil defense of El Hierro has published a report to ask the population to "remain calm" ... and also that they will take every measure which is necessary to protect the safety of the population. They met this evening (after the M5.1 earthquake) in Valverde.
Alpidio Armas told the press that the authorities did not receive any report of damage and/or injuries.

2013-12-27 23:11 UTC
The spectrogram of the latest stronger earthquake

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 00.20.40

2013-12-27 23:11 UTC
A new earthquake occurred very recently in the greater El Hierro area. No IGN Magnitude data yet. We estimate it to be a M4 if the epicenter location is at about the same area than the M5.1 earthquake. (Thanks Cristiaan for alerting us via the comment section)

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 00.15.59

Red line is the new earthquake

2013-12-27 21:16 UTC
The Los Roquillos tunnel has no problems at all and is functioning normally.
Reader Christiaan attracted our attention on another Youtube video from the rockfall at the El Golfo side of the earthquake.

2013-12-27 20:58 UTC
We gad to cut a big chunk from the present article to allow a normal refreshing time and to unload our servers a little bit. The archived part is Part 60 (1/12 - 25/12), yes PART 60 !!! and if it all continues in the future like it was the last couple of years, 100 parts are not impossible 🙂

2013-12-27 20:39 UTC
Shaking intensities as reported by IGN
V = moderate shaking, IV = light shaking, III weak shaking - II very weak shaking

2013-12-27 20:13 UTC
The Mayor of Frontera has ordered and confirmed the closure of the road from Los Llanillos to Sabinosa
The video below shows the danger of rockfall during the earthquake. Normal that a mayor takes a decision like this.
The video has no connection with the information of the road closure.

Hans-Werner wrote :
I watched the two videos about the rockfall at El Hierro on 2013-12-27. The shorter one (11 secs) looks to me as shot from the south/west part, looking at the bonanza rock near the parador from this location: 27.728348,-17.939875
Can anyone confirm this, as this is a complete different location as the road from los Llanillos to Sabinosa. Thank You

2013-12-27 19:51 UTC
In analyzing the epicenters of the aftershocks, we have to mention that the current depth of 11 km is shallower than the depth of the earthquakes who occurred during the last crisis in May. The seismicity occurred at that moment in the (more or less) same area at depths deeper than 15 km. Did anything happened on the sea floor in the epicenter area. We do not think so, but nobody will know until the sea can be monitored during daylight.
The distance from the epicenter to the western edge of the island (Lighthouse area) is 14 km and the depth of the sea floor is 2950 meter!.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 20.59.39

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 20.21.38

Are of mainshock and sthe strongest aftershocks as reported by the International agencies.

2013-12-27 19:32 UTC
The roads from Frontera to Sabinosa and from Pozo de la Salud to Lomo Negro are currently closed for traffic. This means that people who were visiting the beaches of Arodal and Arenas Blancas (Frontera area) are currently trapped at these locations.

2013-12-27 19:26 UTC
It looks like everything is getting calmer again.
Be aware also that the CHIE seismograph (in fact the CTIG or Tigaday) is not sensitive enough to capture the earthquakes who appear in the IGN list, partly because of the distance of the epicenter to the seismograph.

2013-12-27 19:08 UTC
Continuing aftershocks with almost NO impact on the island. As this is probably not a tectonic quake (based on the location of the epicenter), people at both La Palma and El Hierro should be careful to stay away from steep slopes as rockfall can also occur with less strength earthquakes. Another reason to be careful is that the epicenter of the new earthquakes will not necessarily occur in the same area out of the sea. Inside your houses you should certainly FIC all heavy objects to avaoid that they fall on the ground (something which happens often with strong earthquake shaking).
The earthqake was felt as a MMI V (moderate shaking) in the El Golfo area and as a III (weak shaking) at La Palma. (data from IGN)
We welcome (tambien en Espanol) your experience if you have felt this earthquake. Click here to find the form and to watch more maps of the earthquake.

2013-12-27 18:54 UTC
The list below are the earthquakes who started after the mainshock of M5.1. The last 3 earthquakes have occurred at a shallower depth of 11 km (please be aware that these are preliminary data who can be adjusted later on).

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 19.52.23

2013-12-27 18:51 UTC
Image of the shaking dust in Sabinosa posted by Maria Delcarmen Cortes Magan on the AVCAN Facebook page

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 19.48.51

2013-12-27 18:35 UTC
The epicenter area got already many aftershocks (not all of them listed yet). Still out in the sea.
We do not see any tremor on the seismographs which means that there is normally NO eruption going on in the sea after this earthquake.

The M5.3 was a NARROW ESCAPE for the islanders as a M5.3 earthquake below the island would have been certainly damaging. We are happy that it occurred this far from the island.

2013-12-27 18:27 UTC
Via Julio del Castillo Vivero we got a picture from the rockfall (one of the people commenting on the AVCAN Facebook page)
IGN has now also calculated the epicenter of the earthquake and it looks like it was centered West of the Lighthouse area at a depth of 15 km.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 19.24.42 Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 19.25.37

2013-12-27 18:20 UTC
Julio del Castillo Vivero just told me that Joke is OK at El Pinar. We think however that nobody will have been hurt and that damage will be at max. very minor as the epicenter is relatively far out in the sea (we still wait for more details).
Too soon to be sure about the origin of the earthquake (probably volcanic but might be also tectonic). The least we can say is that this Magnitude happens seldom so close to the islands.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 19.21.28

2013-12-27 18:12 UTC
Based on the data of the International seismological agencies, the earthquake happened relatively far out in the ocean to the west of El Hierro
It is perfectly normal that this quake was felt strongly on all the islands, but most on El Hierro (of course) and La Palma.

2013-12-27 18:01 UTC
We are collecting information at this moment.
Rockfall is being reported at the island.
What happened is a release of the accumulated energy due to the intrusion of new magma below the island.

This is the strongest earthquake the El Hierro witnessed since the start of the activity in July 2011

Image courtesy and copyright IGN, Spain

Image courtesy and copyright IGN, Spain

Important update 17:53 UTC (Just In)
From somebody living at Frontera : Violente secousse vers 17:45 locale. Frontera El Hierro Canarias = Violent shaking at about 17:45 local time at Frontera

2013-12-27 17:08 UTC
The scientific group of PEVOLCA has met this morning (Involcan, IGN, CSIC and the authorities (regional and National) and came to the conclusion what is written below. A magmatic intrusion centering in between El Pinar and La Resinga. PEVOLCA said that NO measures have to be taken at this moment (sounds normal to us).
- 6 earthquakes have been listed today (since midnight UTC)
- tremor in the western part of the island is gradually decreasing
- further lifting deformations are confirmed by the last GPS data from Involcan / Prof. Sagiya (Uni of Nagoya)

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 18.13.49

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 18.20.57

Involcan / Uni of Nagoya deformation at the El Pinar station earlier today (Ultra Rapid GPS data)

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 18.12.04

2013-12-27 08:03 UTC
Stabilizing deformations (on the exception of La Restinga)
New deformation data is in. The new maps (see below and click on it to get a more detailed image) are showing almost everywhere stabilizing indications, both horizontally and vertically. La Restinga lifted another cm and was the only exception.
NO more earthquakes listed by IGN since midnight UTC.
The strong increasing tremor we detected yesterday in various stations on the western side of the island are decreasing since many hours.
It looks like the crisis has been very short-lived this time, but a few indicators are still showing some anomalies.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 09.01.35

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 09.01.13

2013-12-27 00:06 UTC
Almost no change in the situation.
A very limited number of earthquakes compared to the first couple of days
Depth of the listed earthquakes are again at an average depth of 16 km
The new deformation data is not yet in (normally during the UTC morning hours)
Analysis of the gases should also be reported one of the coming days.
Hard to day what will happen. As long as the deformation (both horizontal and vertical continues, the crisis is not yet over).

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 01.12.51

2013-12-26 18:10 UTC
What we (maybe one time in the future) may expect at El Hierro, happened the preceding weeks and days in Japan when a Surtseyan submarine eruption surfaced and continued to erupt until Niijima and Nishino-shima made a connection on Christmas day. The eruption lasted for many weeks.

2013-12-26 12:07 UTC
To make the deformation graphs a bit easier to read for our readers, we have created a map showing the axis where the most lifting has been noticed until the latest incoming data. Most earthquakes did occur and continue to occur to the East and South-East of the HI08 GPS station

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 13.06.07

2013-12-26 11:00 UTC
IGN has just released new Ultra Rapid deformation data showing a continuous lifting in some parts and a stagnation in other parts.
The island inflates further with 1.5 cm in both HI08 (El Pinar) and HI09 (La Restinga) which brings the strongest inflation area 7 cm higher than prior to the crisis.
HI02 and HI03 (Sabinosa - El Golfo area) are stagnating or even deflating a little.
HI01 and FRON are lifting also another 1.5 cm.
Will be followed ...

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 11.54.35

Click on this image to see the details in full size

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 11.55.27

Click on this image to see the details in full size

2013-12-26 09:16 UTC
Still only a few earthquakes since midnight, but this may change based on the latest data not yet included in the list.
Volcanic tremor (indicating magma movement, still deep below the island) has been recorded by many instruments on the island.
The Upwards deformation was also confirmed by the latest Involcan/Uni of Nagoya PINA GPS station. In order to reference the current deformation vs the deformations from earlier crisis, we have included the PINA Involcan/Uni of Nagoya GPS data sheet (unfortunately the Pre-2012 data is not included). The increase we witness now can indeed be called "spectacular".

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 10.11.16

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 10.30.58

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 10.32.23

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) – (05/02 – 10/02) – (11/02 – 16/02) – (17/02 – 23/02) – (24/02 –29/02) – (1/03 – 10/03) – (11/03 – 18/03) - (19/03 - 23/03) - (24/03 - 28/03) - (29/03 - 03/04) - (04/04 - 10/04) - (11/04 – 21/04) - (22/04 – 30/04) - (01/05 – 10/05) - Part 43 (11/05 – 31/05) - (01/06 – 14/06) - (15/06 – 24/06) - (25/06 – 26/06) – (27/06 – 28/06) – (29/06 – 01/07) - (02/07 – 06/07) – (07/07 – 31/07) - (01/08 – 31/08) - (01/09 – 11/09) - (12/09 – 30/09) - Part 54 (01/10 – 15/12) - Part 55 (16/12 – 16/03) - Part 56 (16/03 – 26/03) - Part 57 (27/03 - 30/03) - Part 58 (31/03 - 12/08) - Part 59 (13/08 - 30/11) - Part 60 (1/12 - 25/12) - Part 61 (25/12 - 31/12)

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.


  1. Activity has started again on El Hierro today there has been an earthquake north west of Tenerife please can you explain this graph.