Sierra Negra Volcano 2018 Eruption Update

Isabella Island in Galapagos is known for being formed by the merging of six volcanoes. Five volcanos are still active, and on one of them, Sierra Negra, in the past period, had a noticeable intensified activity, which resulted in the yellow alert in that area.

What happened with the Sierra Negra Volcano?

The Sierra Negra volcano is located in the southeastern part of the island of Isabela, at an altitude of nearly 1500 m. At the same time, it is the largest and most active volcano in the archipelago where 10 eruptions have been recorded over the past 200 years. The first recorded eruption on Sierra Negro occurred in 1813, and the last recorded eruption was in 2005. In the beginning of 2018, increased volcanic activity was again observed on Sierra Negra. On January 6, the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute reported that several earthquakes occurred in the vicinity of the volcano. Although they were not strong, there were enough indications that some of the volcanic activity could be reached. The government of Ecuador almost immediately sent experts to the city of Villamil, where the volcano was located, to assess the condition. On January 17, the mountainous area around the Sierra Negro volcano was closed due to seismic activity. Galapagos National Park actively monitored the state of the volcano all the time since the outbreak of the first earthquake at the beginning of the year, and the lava fields around the volcano were not available for sightseeing. Because certain areas were limited to visitors, the schedule for the volcanic hikes in that part of the island of Isabela was altered.

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Since the island was built by volcanoes, due to the activity on the Sierra Negra volcano, there was the possibility that in other areas of the island there would be increased seismic activity. More precisely, it can still come to increased seismic activity because of which the condition of the volcano continues to be closely monitored. Sierra Negra is one of the few volcanoes on which hiking is allowed. Outside the volcanic terrain, beautiful landscapes are spreading over which this place is great for hike. However, due to the danger of eruption, some parts of the island were closed to visitors. Generally, volcanic eruptions at Galapagos, and thus on the Sierra Negro volcano, are not explosive but cause a certain amount of damage. Eruptions usually occur as a pressure coming from the bottom of a volcano, and the lava flows through several days or weeks.

Hikes to Sierra Negra Volcano were allowed in mid-February this year, allowing visitors to enjoy the lush vegetation and landscapes. There is an all-natural path, which means a slightly different scenario than the usual one. Depending on the seismic activity, the trails to Sierra Negra can be closed or open at any time and in any areas of volcanoes that are scheduled for hike. However, for now, there is no danger that all areas foreseen for the hike can be closed at the same time. Cruises to these areas may take place by slightly altered schedules, but there are no major dangers for this activity. Also, there is no danger of traveling to another part of the island, enjoying the beaches of Puerto Villamil or diving in Concha de Perla. Nevertheless, the Galapagos National Park and the Instituto Geofísico – EPN continue to monitor the situation on the volcano, and any change will be announced immediately.

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