What happens when a volcano erupts in the Galápagos?

NASA released a photo Tuesday of Wolf volcano on Isabela Island in the Galápagos.

Jesse Allan/NASA Earth Observatory/U.S. and Japan ASTER Science Team
This image of Wolf volcano was acquired on June 11, 2015, by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra satellite. The false-color image combines near-infrared, red, and green light (ASTER bands 3-2-1), with vegetated areas appearing in red and lava generally appearing charcoal or black.

A satellite photo released by NASA on Tuesday shows the dramatic effects of a volcano on Isabela Island, the largest of the Galápagos Islands, that erupted in late May and has remained active.

The eruption, the first for Wolf volcano in 33 years, threatened the safety of a rare species of pink iguanas, which are only found on Isabela Island, as well as populations of indigenous giant tortoises and yellow iguanas, researchers said. But all the animals of the island were safe, as the ash and lava flowed east and southeast, eventually spilling into the sea, while wildlife live mostly to the north and west of the volcano’s summit.

Wolf is the highest of the islands’ volcanoes, rising 5,609 feet above sea level. The recent eruption sent volcanic gases and ash roughly 50,000 feet into the sky, while lava flowed through a fissure, down eastern and southeastern slopes, and eventually reached the sea, paving over formations from the last eruption in 1982, according to NASA.

In early June, the lava flows on the gentle slopes of the volcano appeared to subside, according researchers, but seismologists from Ecuador’s Instituto Geofisico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG) detected increased activity inside the caldera – the basin at a volcano’s summit – near the southern rim, and they are continuing to closely monitor activity. The 4-mile wide caldera atop Wolf is nearly 700 meters deep.

The image of Wolf volcano was taken by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

ASTER is one of five sensors on the satellite, and is used primarily to monitor volcanic activity and changes to Earth’s land masses due to climate shifts and changes in ecosystem dynamics.

"Terra," named for our planet, was launched in 1999 to collect data about Earth's changing climate. The satellite carries five sensors that study the Earth's atmosphere, lands, oceans, and radiant energy.

The eruption at Wolf volcano came just a few weeks after multiple volcanic eruptions occurred at Calbuco volcano in Chile, forcing more than 6,500 people to evacuate. Both volcanoes are along the so-called Ring of Fire on the Pacific Rim, which is known for seismic activity.   

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.