El Hierro, the smallest of the heavily visited Canary Islands, is evacuating a targeted group of residents and tourists this week. This comes in response to the spike in intensity of the tremors that the Spanish National Geographic Institute began reporting in July and the fear that these events could lead to a volcanic eruption. El Hierro’s last reported eruption lasted a month back in 1793.

This voluntary evacuation could actually lead to an influx of visitors by those practicing volcano tourism as they may choose to go to the island to witness and document the event. In some cases this practice can be safe, as explained by Eumenio Ancochea, volcanologist at Madrid’s Complutense University, “After an eruption the lava advances at a few metres per hour and you can easily take photographs as it descends.”   In the El Hierro case, it may not be safe to visit, as potential landslides resulting from an eruption could be devastating.  It is this threat of landslides that has motivated the evacuation.

El Hierro is just the latest of many volcanoes gaining celebrity in the news, but this is not necessarily an indication that volcanic activity is increasing worldwide.  As we surmised in July, experts suggest that the impression of increased volcanic activity should be attributed to increased reporting and better communication all around the world.

Photo by Mataparda.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow – it certainly looks like El Hierro has taught us another salutory lesson about the power of Mother Nature. We all recall the Iceland volcano from just a few years ago also – virtually shutting down the airspace of the UK.

  2. Thankfully it’s not the main Las Palmas Volcano that’s rumbling, they say that one could wipe out the entire Eastern Seaboard plus some of the European Coast.

    It’s only a short hop away though and who knows exactly how the Earth works beneath the thin skin we call home.

    It is definately worth keeping a close eye on El Hierro.

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