The ongoing volcanic eruption of El Hierro, Canary Islands



El Hierro, the youngest of the Canary Islands (Spain), is no stranger to hazards associated with volcanic activity or to efforts to minimize the effects of these hazards on local communities. As early as 1793, administrative records of El Hierro indicate that a swarm of earthquakes was felt by locals; fearing a greater volcanic catastrophe, the first evacuation plan of an entire island in the history of the Canaries was prepared. The 1793 eruption was probably submarine with no appreciable consequences other than that the earthquakes were felt [Carracedo, 2008]; over the next roughly 215 years the island was seismically quiet. Yet seismic and volcanic activity are expected on this youngest Canary Island due to its being directly above the presumed location of the Canary Island hot spot, a mantle plume that feeds upwelling magma just under the surface, similar to the Hawaiian Islands. Because of this known geologic activity, the Spanish Instituto Geográfco Nacional (IGN) has managed geophysical monitoring of the island since the beginning of the 1990s.