A new eruption started at Fernandina volcano (Cerro La Cumbre), Galapagos, Ecuador on January 12, 2020. The last eruption of this volcano took place from June 16 to 18, 2018. The island has no human population.
The eruptive activity started between 23:00 and 23:10 UTC on January 12, according to the IGEPN (Ecuador's Geophysical Institute).
Seismicity under the volcano started increasing at 20:42 UTC with M4.7, followed by 29 localized events with magnitudes below 3.1. At this time, the Taal volcano in the Philippines was already in a major eruption.
The first images show a radial fissure along the southeast edge of the volcano, with lava flows descending to the coast.
Fernandina is one of the youngest islands in the archipelago. Its ecological value is very high because its ecosystems host unique species such as terrestrial and marine iguanas, snakes, endemic rats, non-flying cormorants, and penguins, among others.
Cerro la Cumbre eruption on January 12 and 13, 2020. Credit: Galapagos National Park
The June 2018 eruption took place on the north-northeast flank of the volcano.
Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km (3.1 to 4 miles) summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic "overturned soup bowl" profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes.
Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in the growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time.
In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m (1 148 feet) following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent.
The collapse of a nearly 1 km3 (0.24 mi3) section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake. (GVP)
Featured image: Eruption of Cerro la Cumbre (Fernandina) volcano, Galapagos, Ecuador on January 12, 2020. Credit: Galapagos National Park