Fernandina and Llaima Eruption Updates for 4/13/2009 - Updated!

Fernandina, Ecuador

Fernandina erupting in 2009.

UPDATE 4/13/09 at 12PM: The NASA Earth Observatory has posted a nice MODIS image showing the plume from the Fernandina eruption drifting out over the Pacific.

We have a few more details on the ongoing eruption at Fernandina in the Galapagos Islands. Officials from the Parque Nacional Galápagos (PNG) flew over the island (in spanish) and saw the eruption is coming from a several-kilometer-long fissure vent that flows towards the sea, dividing into multiple flows and then coalescing when it reaches the sea. There is also a lot of vapor being produced at the ocean entrance of the lava flows (not surprisingly). You can see the fissure erupting - looks like what we like to call the "curtain of fire" phase - in the first few picturs of the photo gallery at the bottom of this article. So far, the iguanas of Fernandina aren't thought to be in much danger from the eruption.

Llaima, Chile

Llaima erupting in 2009.

In Chile, Llaima continues to steam away after its intense eruption of the last few weeks. A constant glow (in spanish) was spotted at the summit of the volcano on Saturday and the lava flow from the new eruptions appears to still be active. There is still constant low-level seismic activity and gas emissions at the volcano. The pyroclastic debris is still blocking part of the vent as well. There is also some impressive video of the strombolian activity, lava flows and mudflows from the eruption.

More like this

Great fissure eruption photo!

What a great blog. I stumbled across it when I was searching for some real info on the La Cumbre eruption. There must be hundreds of stories online about this and they all are about the dangers to the wildlife. Don't any of these folks consider the fact that these critters have been on these volcanic islands for millions of years and survived just fine thru inumerable eruptions.

Anyway I posted a link to this blog on the rockhounds list which has a lot of people interested in geology on it.


By agesilaus (not verified) on 13 Apr 2009 #permalink

We are about to book a Galapagos trip and have now held off due to the eruption on Fernandina. Would appreciate input as to travel in the area and how it will be affected by the blow. I do agree with the blogger who said "it has been going on for centuries".

BK - Thanks for the kind words. It is rather amusing that people might think that animals living on a volcanic archipelago would be in danger (more so) when the volcano erupts.

B&B - I would imagine that traveling to the Galapagos would be fine. The eruption is likely be to confined is the island of Fernandina and from the sound of it, this eruption is effusive (lava flows) in nature. However, as always, you should check with the Geophysical Institute in Ecuador or the USGS/SI volcanic activity reports the closer it comes to your trip.

With a spectacular eruption on Fernandina, now would be the very best time to visit the Galapagos! A tour by small boat that takes in all the major islands including Fernandina is a must!

PS The satellite photo shows that the eruption is on the far side of Fernandina from the side visitors are allowed to access - bummer! So if you went there you wouldn't even see the eruption - just lots and lots of sunbathing iguanas and sea lions.

First of all, Erik is a former student of mine, so it's pretty cool to find his blog.

Second, I just returned from a field trip with students to the Galapagos Islands, and am desolate that we missed the eruption by two weeks!

Third, the eruption site is far from the visitors' site on Fernandina, so regular tours will not be affected. I have read about boats making detours to allow visitors a better view of the eruption. This style of eruption does not pose a serious danger, and the prevailing westerly winds are taking the ash and steam generated by the eruption away from the islands.

Hope all is well Erik.

By Paul Karabinos (not verified) on 16 Apr 2009 #permalink

Hello there Dr. Karabinos! Glad you could stop by ... too bad you just missed the eruption on Fernandina, but I imagine any trip to the Galapagos would be amazing.

(For those of you curious, I did indeed take structural geology for Paul Karabinos at Williams. Many a outcrop did I sketch in that class ... it was a blast!)

We just returned from our Galapagos visit and had the good fortune to witness the Fernandina volcano eruption. We were on the M/V Santa Cruz at 4am on April 26th and approached within a couple miles of shore. We could see the lava spurting into the air and the glowing rivers of lava as they flowed to the sea. As dawn broke, we could see the gas plumes and clouds defined by the rising sun. Spectacular!

By Bob Becker (not verified) on 01 May 2009 #permalink