The Sciences

Fernandina eruption taking out wildlife

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiApr 16, 2009 9:44 AM

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Fissure vent eruption from Fernandina in the Galapagos Islands.

In news that comes as a surprise to no one, the current eruption on Fernandina in the Galapagos is having some adverse effect on the wildlife in the Pacific archipelago. Numerous dead fish and sea lions have been seen in the ocean near the actively erupting volcano - now, what exactly is causing the deaths is more speculative. I would imagine with the large plume being produced by the volcano, along with the lava flows reaching the ocean, that volcanic gases and the lava's interaction with the sea water might be the leading culprit, but at this point, it is only conjecture. However, wildlife has had to deal with volcanic eruptions in the Galapagos for thousands (millions?) of years, so we shouldn't worry too much about evacuating everything just yet.

As for the large plume, the NASA Earth Observatory has a great description of how the Aura Satellite measures sulfur dioxide, along with an image of the plume itself from Fernandina. Currently, it heads quite a ways to the west of the island over the Pacific Ocean. A visual image of the plume can also be found here.

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