October 19, 2011 – Spain’s El Hierro Island, in the Canary Island Chain, Reports Condition Red for a Submerged Volcano: Condition Red is the highest possible Volcano Alert Status (eruption eminent). Spain’s Instituto Geografico Nacional (IGN) confirmed on Tuesday that an underwater eruption has occurred five kilometers (3 miles) off the southern coastline of El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands. The eruption is Spain’s first since the eruption in 1971 of the Tenegua volcano on the island of La Palma (see map). The IGN says all three of its seismic stations on El Hierro in the Canary Islands have registered volcanic tremors in the southern portion of the island of El Hierro, at La Restinga, the southern-most village in the Canaries. The estimated 537 residents of the town were summoned to a local football field on Tuesday afternoon to be briefed on evacuation procedures. A Red Alert has since been issued by local authorities for the town. A notice posted on the Emergencia El Hierro website on Tuesday evening stated that the submerged volcano, off the southern tip of El Hierro Island, was in a pre-eruptive phase. The notice issued by authorities involves the initiation of a preventive evacuation. Residents are requested to make themselves available to authorities. Scientists from IGN and CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas), meanwhile, have conducted a reconnaissance flight over the sea to the area south of the island, where they have located dead fish floating on the surface five kilometers (3 miles) from the coast. The dead fish were identified in an area where earthquakes occurred on October 9, 2011; at a depth of approximately 2 kilometers (6,560 feet). The present volcanic activity is understood to be occurring at a depth of 600 meters (1,800 feet) below sea level, in the Las Calmas Sea. Scientists from IGN, CSIC and the University of Cadiz have established their monitoring base at La Restinga. Efforts are underway to determine if the subsea volcanic vent is widening and if so, in which direction (away or toward El Hierro). Initial reports of the eruption were received from crews on board four separate ships. Local media agency Canarias 7, reported on Monday that Government authorities have suspended ferry activities to and from the 285 square-kilometer (180 square-miles) island of El Hierro.
The Canaries, and other ocean islands, have always had the ability to produce catastrophic volcanic eruptions or landslides that could produce tsunami’s over 500 feet high. Tsunami of this height would be a world calamity of unprecedented proportions for the major cities on the coast, where 60% of the world’s population reside!
The Master of Disaster