Galápagos Conservancy

Witnessing the Volcanic Fury in Galápagos: Jorge Carrión’s Unique Perspective From the Field

Witnessing the Volcanic Fury in Galápagos
The Cumbre volcano on Fernandina Island, towering at 1476 meters, erupts spectacularly on March 3, 2024, as we witness the volcanic fury in the remote Galápagos Islands. ©Galápagos Conservancy

Very few people get to witness a volcano at the point of eruption. But for the second time in just two years, Dr. Jorge Carrión, our Director of Conservation at Galápagos Conservancy, has been a privileged witness first-hand to the majesty and fury of vulcanism as it unfolds in these remote Galápagos Islands.

Conserving endangered wildlife among volcanic eruptions

In January 2022, Jorge was leading a conservation expedition on Wolf Volcano on the northern end of Isabela Island to study and protect the volcano’s endemic iconic pink iguana on Isabela Island. Alongside other conservation officers from Galápagos Conservancy and park rangers from the Galápagos National Park Directorate, Jorge was at the crater’s edge searching for iguanas when the volcano suddenly erupted. Fortunately, the team was located on the opposite side of the crater where the eruption occurred, and the field team was able to evacuate quickly thanks to the logistics support of the National Park and the collaboration of the yacht “Octopus.”

Witnessing the Volcanic Fury in Galápagos
The eruption of Wolf Volcano, towering at 1710 meters above sea level, located in the northern part of Isabela Island in the Galápagos Archipelago on January 6, 2022. ©Galápagos Conservancy

Two years later, on March 3rd, while on another conservation mission to Wolf Volcano, Jorge witnessed another impressive natural spectacle: the eruption of La Cumbre Volcano on the neighboring Fernandina Island, the youngest in the archipelago. From his position on Wolf Volcano, Jorge could see how the neighboring island came to life with explosions that sent brilliant columns of gas and ash rising into the night sky.

Witnessing the Volcanic Fury in Galápagos
From the Wolf volcano on Isabela Island, our Director of Conservation, Jorge Carrión, witnesses the eruption of Fernandina's Cumbre volcano in the background. Its latest eruptions were recorded in 2017, 2018, 2020, and now in 2024. ©Galápagos Conservancy
Witnessing the Volcanic Fury in Galápagos
Dr. Jorge Carrión observes the eruption of Wolf Volcano in January 2022 during a conservation expedition in the area. ©Galápagos Conservancy

For Jorge, these experiences have been involved more than merely observing natural events. They provide powerful reminders of the critical importance of conservation in such a dynamic and fragile environment as Galápagos. As the leader of our conservation team, Jorge embodies the dedication and passion needed necessary to protect these unique ecosystems in this dynamic and fragile environment as Galápagos.

Conserving life on the edge The Role of Scientific Research and Environmental Education

The current eruption of La Cumbre Volcano, while not posing a significant immediate threat to any Galápagos wildlife, serves as a stark reminder of the constant volcanic activity that has shaped these islands over millions of years and still can occasionally imperil species.

Our expeditions to these remote volcanoes provide our staff such as Jorge with valuable opportunities to understand the geological processes and their ecological impacts and help educate the public about the importance of conservation and risk management for fragile biodiversity in the volcanic environments of Galápagos.

At Galápagos Conservancy, we are proud to have leaders like Jorge Carrión, whose passion and dedication to getting out in the field to help save the archipelago’s incredible biodiversity also enable him to witness the vast and awesomely powerful forces of vulcanism that shape the fate of many species in these islands.

Witnessing the Volcanic Fury in Galápagos
The conservation expedition team, from left to right: Jorge Carrión, Adrián Cueva, Danny García, Sebastián Ballesteros, Ronny Gil, and Paúl Vaca, stands at the summit of Wolf Volcano, with the neighboring island of Fernandina in the background, where the Cumbre volcano is currently erupting. ©Galápagos Conservancy