June 27, 2018
On June 26, 2018, scientists from the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School registered an increase in seismic activity indicating that the volcano was initiating its eruptive process. An Orange Alert was issued, resulting in 50 people being evacuated from their homes in the area (they were soon allowed to return). The environmental authority has closed the visitor site there until further notice.
Freddy Mosquera, park ranger from the Galapagos National Park Directorate, is monitoring the eruptive activity of the Sierra Negra volcano from his post in the control booth of the El Cura sector, in the upper part of Isabela Island.
Mosquera and two technicians from the Park visit the area surrounding the volcano daily to register the presence of new lava flows in the process of cooling and solidification, the fall of ash; as well as the smell of the gases and the level of activity.
They also evaluate the changes that could occur in the ecosystem of the volcanic area, due to the fact that in the lower slopes (east of the volcano), there are four populations of giant tortoises of the species Chelonoidis guntheri, as well as a population of land iguanas. Since the lava flows are heading down the northwest side of the volcano, however, rangers do not believe that these populations will be affected by the eruption.
The Sierra Negra volcano has steep slopes and is a shield-type volcano, like the other volcanoes in the Archipelago. Sierra Negra has one of the largest craters in the world, with a diameter of approximately 6 miles and elevation of nearly 3,700 feet above sea level. The last eruptions were recorded in 2005 and 1979.
Photos © Galapagos National Park Directorate.