Yellow Alert for El Heirro Continues! East Coast Stay Alert

El Heirro is continuing to show activity and the escarpment is showing signs of instability. folks on the East Coast should continue to monitor this situation very closely. Remember if a tsunami is generated there will only be a 6-8 hour window to get to high ground. If this were to occur during the wee hours of the morning, there would even be less time to respond. Seismic activity continues in a small swarming pattern.

1-01 13:23 UTC
Renewed increasing tremor is visible in the El Golfo area (TAB en TAN seismographs). Remember that we mentioned this morning  that HI04 Sabinosa area GPS station had an increase of at least 2 cm during the last 24 hours.

2014-01-01 10:44 UTC
4 earthquakes since our latest update. The M2.1 at 3 km depth earthquake was located to the south of La Restinga in the Las Calmas sea
Ecxept for the HI04 GPS (Sabinosa) who shows a lifting of 2 cm, almost all the other stations stabilizes based on the new IGN deformation data.
Link to graph of HI00; HI08, HI09 and HI10
Link to graph of HI01, FRON, HI02, HI03 and HI04

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 11.41.18

Stay Alert!

Yellow Alert – El Heirro is Active

As it is our policy to keep you informed, it seems our old friend El Heirro is threatening to reawake. The concern here is if El Heirro has a significant quake causing a massive landslide, the East Coast of the US could experience a significant tsunami of 10-30M and with only a 6-8 hours notice.

Two years after a new underwater volcano appeared offshore of El Hierro in the Canary Islands, earthquake swarms and a sudden change in height suggest a new eruption is brewing near the island’s villages, officials announced Friday (Dec. 27).

el heirro 6 Nov

After the announcement, one of the largest temblors ever recorded at the volcanic island, a magnitude-5.1 earthquake, struck offshore of El Hierro at 12:46 p.m. ET (5:46 p.m. local time) Friday,December 27, 2013, the National Geographic Institute reported. Residents on the island reported strong shaking, and the quake was felt throughout the Canary Islands, according to news reports. The earthquake’s epicenter was 9 miles (15 kilometers) deep.

Before the earthquake struck early Friday afternoon, the island’s volcano monitoring agency, Pelvolca, had raised the volcanic eruption risk for El Hierro to “yellow.” This warning means that activity is increasing at the volcano, but no eruption is imminent. A similar burst of activity prompted a yellow warning in June 2012, but the volcano soon quieted down.

Parts of El Hierro have swelled nearly 3 inches (7 centimeters) in the past week, with the growth centered between El Pinar and La Restinga, according to Involcan, the Volcanological Institute of the Canaries.

More than 550 earthquakes rattled the island between Monday and Wednesday, also centered on La Restinga. About 30 of the earthquakes were greater than magnitude 3, Involcan said. The earthquakes are triggered by magma rising underground, fracturing rocks and swelling the surface as the hot rock reaches upward. “The earthquake swarm corresponds to a new magmatic intrusion,” Involcan said Friday morning in a statement.

Friday’s preliminary magnitude-5.1 earthquake was on the opposite side of the island from the ongoing swarm.

Our concern is that MSM is not reporting this and our USGS site has only reported the 5.4 quake that occurred today. So heads up East Coasters and let everyone you know what is going on. Pay close attention for the next few days and be aware of what is going on in La Palma.  You can monitor activity closely at European Seismology Center and monitor for a tsunami at Atlantic Tsunami Warning Center. As always make sure you have your bug-out bag at the ready and your evacuation route well planned. Since there is such a high density population on the East Coast, the sooner you are aware, the more likely you will get to high ground in time.

To be clear here, we are not saying a large quake is eminent or that a tsunami will be generated. What we are saying is earthquakes have been swarming and growing in intensity. It is time to pay close attention as the potential for a large quake with a resultant tsunami has significantly increased in the last 48 hours.

El Heirro Update – Crisis Seems to be Abating

This is just a quick update.  The activities in La Palma seem to be subsiding.  Only 9 quakes today and the FARO data seems to indicate that lava flow and deformation haven’t occurred in any significant manner in the last 48 hours.  Based on this information, it would seem the potential eruption and associated tsunami seems to be abating.  We will continue to monitor closely, but for now we can relax a bit.

El Heirro Update – Activity is Increasing! Stay Alert!

Activity over the last 48 hours has increased significantly both in frequency and intensity of earthquakes.  The FARO data is also suggesting increased deformation.  Please pay close attention East Coasters. Here is a recap diary of the most recent activity.

el Heirro3_29_13

2013-03-29 16:16 UTC
– A very powerful earthquake has been reported from El Hierro so far.
– People at the island told Julio that this felt as being the strongest so far
– Rockfall has been reported in different places.

2013-03-29 13:11 UTC
Pevolca has met and says in essence what we have been telling all day.
– As seismicity is still at a safe distance from the coast (what is safe ?) no other protective measures should be taken (see earlier Pevolca report for the initial measures below).
– Pevolca also confirms that the seismic activity is moving the the South-West. ER would call it South
– The strong earthquakes are continuing at a high frequency at the time of writing

2013-03-29 11:17 UTC

Impressive seismic activity
– The released energy since the start of this crisis has surpassed the total energy released during the initial eruptive crisis in 2011
– So far today (11 hours) we have counted 51 M3+ earthquakes
– 8 M4+ earthquake – 4 of which have been felt by the people (in fact everything has been felt, but people do not report it anymore). The strongest ones have also been felt at the neighboring islands like La Palma
– Remember the words of local seismologists/volcanologists shortly after the start of this crisis “this crisis will not last long as the feeding source does not have enough energy”. This remark is not meant to be offensive to those scientists, only that we have to be humble when we talk about the unknown aspects of nature.



2013-03-29 11:00 UTC
– Relatively calm period at this moment
– The seabed depth of the current seismic activity is +2000 meter (+6000 ft) = safe + weakening the shaking impact

2013-03-29 09:42 UTC
– The strong M4.6 earthquake had his epicenter at approx. 6 km out of the coast (thats closer than previous strong earthquakes).
– Hypocenters show a tendency to become shallower again (17 km), with a few shallower ones.
– The seismic active area is still below a relatively flat seabed but the distance to the submarine volcanic hills is gradually decreasing.

2013-03-29 09:07 UTC
– Strong events are following each other up at a high rate today.


2013-03-29 08:58 UTC
– The volcano does not give up so far. He continues to shake the greater epicenter area and some of these quakes can even be felt at other islands.
– 64 earthquakes listed by IGN so far (they only list the stronger ones now – the real number today must run already into the hundreds)
– Strongest earthquake so far today : M4.3 (initially quoted as M4.6)
– The hypocenters are again in the 20 km layer (like the crisis in mid-2012)
– Deformation is further increasing. The images below are from the Lighthouse GPS station (also western part of the island)
– Epicenters are a little more to the south today, which may explain the deeper hypocenters. Still far enough out of the coast to weaken the earthquake impact on the island. Red bullets are very shallow earthquakes. The red bullet in the Las Calmas sea is erroneous BUT we take special interest in the 2 shallow earthquakes below the South-Western coast of the island. They have been calculated at M2.0 and M2.2, strange … As these quakes are far away from the seismic area it looks to us that these are earthquakes which have been triggered by the deformation of the island. IGN (with a lot more data) will certainly know what is exactly was.
– The strong action is still continuing.

We will update as warranted.


Pay Attention, USGS is not!, El Heirro Update

As we continue the monitor the situation in La Palma, What really struck us this morning is that USGS is not even showing ANY activity in the Canary Islands. We witnessed this the last time El Heirro was grumbling, NOTHING from USGS.  Here is the latest screenshot from the USGS EQ site, and as you will notice, even though they are supposed to be reporting and showing every quake over 2.5M, there are NO quakes showing in the Canary Islands.

usgs EQ 25 mar 13

UPDATE- El Heirro – March 25, 2013 – 10:00PST

The activity continues and is growing in both magnitude and frequency of harmonic quakes. You can monitor the situation closely at El Heirro Monitoring.  The likelihood of a new submarine eruption in the near future is increasing. Earthquakes and pulsating strong tremor continued with little changes, indicators of magma intruding into new dikes in the western rift zone. There is also a trend towards stronger quakes (about 20 magnitude 3+ events including a M4 this morning) and shallower earthquakes (many at around 11-12 km depth today). This suggests that magma is slowly breaking pathways upwards, i.e. towards the seafloor. The area has remained about 5 km off shore NW from the western tip of the island, ie. under the submarine prolongation of the volcano’s western rift zone. This is where now a new eruption should be expected, if the magma does not decide to migrate laterally once again.

quakes-el-hierro-250313-list.png (2)

So keep close watch if you are on the East Coast.  We have received questions about “how bad would it be if the worst case scenario would unfold. Our best guess, and it is a guess, is that a tsunami of 150’ could impact the east coast, with Florida and Georgia feeling the greatest impacts.  So to answer the question of where do you go and when, getting to elevations above 500’ ASL should minimize the danger. If the western face of El Heirro would suddenly calve as a part of an eruption, East Coasters may have 8 hours to act. The real concern we have is how fast MSM would report such an event, which could lose precious evacuation time, and at what time the event would occur. For example, if the eruption occurred at 12 AM or very early morning, people may simply not be aware the event occurred.

The situation remains Yellow, keep close watch.  You can also monitor real time EQ activity here, since USGS chooses not to even consider the danger.

EMSC-CSEM Earthquake Monitoring

More as we get it.

Eruption of the El Hierro Volcano in the Canary Islands? Heads Up East Coast

As we continue monitoring seismic events globally, we on occasion feel there is enough “unusual” activity to issue watches for potentially impacted areas.  Traditionally one of our greatest concerns is the La Palma volcano in the Canary Islands because of a very large risk that such an eruption would generate a potentially dangerous tsunami that would effect the entire east coast and doe so with less than 8 hours notice.

Such events are now occurring. In fact, there is now a Red Alert and evacuations going on in La Restinga .  Check out the map above of recent seismic activity in the area. There have been 155 earthquakes above magnitude 2 today (Saturday) alone. The seismic swarm continues with even increasing intensity, as to both the average magnitude and frequency of earthquakes, as well as amplitude of harmonic volcanic tremor which is oscillating between higher and lower phases. This might correspond to some sort of “stop and go” behavior of magma moving its way through new cracks in the lower crust beneath the island. The location of the epicenters of quakes, the presumed location of the current magma intrusions, is now about 5 km NW of the western tip of the island, and at depths between 10-17 km. No strong upwards trend is yet visible, but this could change quickly.
Today’s earthquake count so far:
– 155 earthquakes > mag 2
– including 15 between M3-3.5

Eventos_HIERRO_2D_31 (1)

Earthquakes continue with increasing magnitudes

Update Sat 23 Mar 16:41

The scenario of an eruption in the near future is becoming increasingly likely:
– Volcanic tremor continues, suggesting magma is still moving although mostly laterally for the time being to an area just north off the western tip of the island.
– Earthquakes continue at high frequency and increasing magnitudes (more than 90 quakes above magnitude 2, including 8 of magnitudes 3-3.5 so far today). Their epicenters have remained at 14-16 km depth mostly, with some shallower events as well.
– Deformation of the western part of the island continues to increase, with vertical uplift reaching about 5 cm on some stations in the westernmost part of the island. 

Again folks on the East Coast should pay attention over the next few days.  Check those bug out bags and remember the sooner you get to go the more likely you will get to safety.  If any changes occur we will post them as soon as possible.  this would reflect to a condition Yellow.

El Heirro Situation Update and Yellow Alert for the East Coast.

In our continuing effort to monitor geo-physical conditions that could affect us we must once again elevate the alert for a potential East Coast tsunami related to a potential of a major eruption of El Heirro. This is not to say an eruption is eminent, however both the presence of multiple HARMONIC quakes and rapid island bulging indicates that El Heirro is not as stable as previously thought.

It has been a few months now since the eruption at El Hierro in the Canary Islands was declared “over”. There may be some passive degassing on the seafloor from the new vent that formed at depth to the south of the island, but things had settled down. Even the people of Restinga were putting the eruption in the past, with both webcams taken offline and the guarantee of €600,000 (~$750,000) from the government to aid fishermen whose livelihoods had been altered by the closed fisheries. However, with any active volcano, it can be difficult to predict when exactly an eruptive cycle is truly done.

However starting late last week, seismicity under the island has resumed and its manifestation is very similar to what we saw last summer during the lead up to the eruption of El Hierro in October 2011. Over 50 earthquakes have been recorded at El Hierro, some as large as ~M3.5 and AVCAN thinks that the new seismicity suggests that magma is moving in the same conduits as the fall 2011 activity. The earthquakes are, as of June 23, were still deep – upwards of 15-25 km below the surface. This likely supports the idea that there is new magma entering the El Hierro system at depth. Now, last summer it took months of constant seismicity before we saw any surface manifestation (the submarine vent at ~88 meters depth), so we may not know if this new intrusion of magma will lead to new eruptions until the fall.

Then by last Monday, June 25th, the unusually strong earthquake swarm under El Hierro Island continued, harmonic volcanic tremor had reappeared short time ago at about 16h10 UTC. The tremor, a low-frequency ground vibration, is thought to be caused by moving magma. It had been strong last Sunday and Monday and correlated well with a southward propagation of earthquake locations, suggesting that magma at about 20 km depth flew from underneath the El Golfo area towards the EL Julan (south) coast, in a similar way as before the Oct 2011 eruption, but became blocked there, and did not reach the southern rift zone near La Restinga. After the cease of tremor in the afternoon, earthquakes still continued at high rate, marking a record figure with over 180 quakes larger than M2 Sunday alone, and more than 150 quakes larger than M1.5 on Monday. In other words, pressure continued to cause wide-spread rock fracturing underground and cause small intrusions of fluids. Now, the re-appearance of tremor could mean that magma is moving again somewhere underneath the island. Where to and whether or not it might reach the surface and initiate a new eruption is difficult to know at the moment. It is essential to continue to monitor location and magnitude of earthquakes.

AS of Friday, following days of almost continual earthquakes, residents of the small Canary island of El Hierro are once again living in fear of a volcanic eruption as their island begins to lift. According to the National Geographic Institute of Spain, increases in seismic activity on the island has seen literally hundreds of earthquakes, known as a swarm, shaking the island and gradually increasing in strength since June 25. Around 750 earthquakes have been recorded although few have been strong enough to be felt by the residents until the last two days The island has been placed on yellow alert by the security committee in charge of operations as the earthquakes increase. The largest so far was registered at 4.0 on the Richter scale on Wednesday June 27. More frightening for the approximately 10,000 residents is the fact that a bulge has developed in the island, lifting it five centimetres in four days. Whereas the volcanic activity of 2011 was based out at sea, this time the magma appears to be forming right underneath the island and the pressure is building. Scientists on the island are using the position of the earthquake epicentres to try and work out where the magma from the volcano will come to the surface.The longer it takes to find a vent, the more the pressure from the magma will grow and the larger any possible eruption is likely to be.

Earthquake Report says that PEVOLCA (Civil Protection from Volcanic Risk) has said that there is an acceleration in the flow of magma, with a “clear process of inflation”. As reported by Digital Journal on June 25, the island suffered serious seismic activity last year, resulting in an undersea volcanic cone as can be seen in the video. However, over time, the activity died down and it was thought by experts that was the end of the event. The research vessel ‘Hesperides’ which had been investigating went home and the live cameras were turned off. Now the ‘Hesperides’ is hurrying back to the island but the cameras have not as yet been turned back on. The website Decoded Science, in an article by Jennifer Young, explains how magma chambers work and how scientists are processing information from volcanoes to learn more about predicting possible eruptions. It is this activity that the scientists on the ‘Hesperides’, in conjunction with those on the island itself, will be studying in an effort to try and predict if and when the volcano under El Hierro will erupt. Official reports have been few and far between and the Spanish media has concentrated rather more on the football and the economy than the volcano growing under one of Spain’s most popular holiday destinations, just as the season gets into full swing.