Drumbeats of El Hierro

Photograph by Jon Major and Dan Dzurisin, courtesy USGS. A mountain being pushed up half a centimeter every other minute

A magmatectonic phenomenon called Drumbeats was originally discovered by the USGS at Mount Saint Helens Back in 2006. At 16.15 a similar phenomenon started at El Hierro in the Canary Islands, Spain.

First of all, let me say once and for all, El Hierro will not erupt like Mount Saint Helens. They are two totally different types of volcanoes.

Image: IGN, forcefully released thanks to EU and Swedish law. Clear and present drumbeats started at 16.15

At Mount Saint Helens it was caused by pressure build up pushing a magmatic plug that had formed in the vent after the explosive eruption. That pressure than pushed the plug up 5 millimeters at every other minute. Seeing a small mountain jumping up half a centimeter every 120 seconds would be, I presume, a rather impressive thing to actually watch.

In all likelihood it is a similar process that is ongoing at El Hierro as I write this. But, it is very unlikely that there will be a plug pressed out, it is more likely that this is a widening of a fissure leading up to a new eruptions spot, or a widening process of the tube leading to Bob south of La Restinga. It could also be pulsations in the magma flow.

I guess that before the evening is over we will have a plot showing exactly from where the Drumbeats are originating from.

Physics lesson

A short lesson of physics seems to be in order here. The reason for this is that Avcan has stated something that is plain wrong regarding a ship putting out “pulses” that creates the Drumbeats.

The energy in each pulse (drumbeat) is a function of amplitude times duration. In this case the required energy needed in each pulse varies between 60MJ and 360 MJ. What is that then? Well, that would be the same as 60 to 360 mega-Watts of electricity. Or 60 to 360 cars hitting the same spot at 100 km/h each. Or 15 to 83kg of C4 explosive. To put it mildly, there is no ship and no equipment on El Hierro capable of producing that every other minute for hours. Pure, and simple physics. Remember that we can see the signal on other stations, on other islands.

Logic is good, but physics is better when dealing with nature!



http://www.isla.hawaii.edu/volcano/IWARS06/pdf_presentations/matoza_iwars06_sthelens.pdf Realy good Power-point, a bit big.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1769/chapters/p1769_chapter01.pdf This paper is explaining what I think is happening here.

630 thoughts on “Drumbeats of El Hierro

    • I like being useful. I keep looking for interesting information for the blog, and if I have knowledge of something important I tell you. 🙂

    • I have problems with the Movistar site – Old computer, slow broadband and usually everyone else is online there, so the Adobe flash just keeps “connecting” the whole time!
      I have just found http://www.elhierrowebcam.com/ which gives one the possibility of 4 webcams – the 2 Movistar ones, the Meteo Las Puntas and the ustream ACN (which, if i can’t get it to stream, usually gives me a recent still). They all seem to work for me. I have the ACN up in a separate window.

      • moviestar added View Frontera from Tigaday and a Border View from tunnel of Roquille
        vista Frontera desde Tigaday
        Vista Frontera desde túnel de los Roquillos
        in addition to that a map of el hierro and the webcam locations.
        also video and picture albums.

        and woomf i think might be on the first page of these comments there was a link to the (eruption cam of moviestar) that updated screenshots of it. maybey that something for you? if i see the link i will re post it.

    • In Iceland, this is called “gluggaveður” (=”window weather”) meaning better to look at it from inside, because it is rather windy (17 m/sec. at Westman Islands near Katla), and cold (-2C°).

  1. Webcam view of this morning (not continues) and some pictures.
    I spotted 2 steaming rocks. first footage taken at 09:55 last starts at 11:33 all video footage is 5x normal speed.

  2. Seismic activity at Galeras has displayed characteristic signals known as “tornillos”. “Tornillo” is Spanish for ‘screw’, and these seismic signals are so named because their shape on a seismograph resembles a screw with a wide head and tapered tail. At Galeras, these signals are generally regarded as short-term precursors to explosive eruptions.

    . In 1993, Galeras erupted with no warning (seismic precursors) while a group of volcanologists and visitors were visiting the crater of the active cone. Nine people were killed and six were injured in the explosion; because of the lack of seismic activity, many of the victims were not wearing adequate safety equipment. The disaster served as a cautionary example to other volcanologists, and now many are much more wary of venturing into an active volcanic crater.

  3. In the short time my assumption is we are in the last chapter of Hierro´s eruption.

    It could be we saw some medium episode yet for 10 days, but I hope Hierro´s volcanoe will take soft eruption activity since around December13th for 2-3 months until February- March.

    The end.

  4. Hello judith.

    The lack of seismic precursors could be dued when in year before it was seismic movements ant the way was still open since then…
    It is not needed seismic precursors because the way was open yet since year before.
    Only explosion is needed.

  5. IGN confirmed that according to the research vessel Ramon Margalef the volcanic cone has issued much material has unfolded. There are currently three cones attached to each other and very close to each other, associated with the escarpment which rose the first cone. This group reaches a depth of 160-180 meters.

    Also, indicate that the material is a course for funds 1700-2000 meters and emissions on the northern slope.

    The work of the ship Sarmiento de Gamboa note the depth estimation of the cone at 150 meters.

  6. High tremor returning in the last 25 minutes.

    Spanish oficials changed today red alert for yellow alert…
    Red alert only in the sea… Yellow alert in land…

    Now we can see high tremor with presence of gases…
    Yesterday people of La Restinga said they smell high presence of gases…
    If tremor goes up and the wind was going from the sea to the land we could see how people of La Restinga has problems just now today when alert levels has been changed to yellow…

  7. I want to say it´s very sad the point of view of spanish institutes taking control of this phenomenon under the law if silence…
    The point of view of the citizen protection and politicans and economicals points of views above the science´s phenomenon…
    The last picture we coukd see from the oceanic vessel Margalef was on November 13th…
    We are waiting yet the last images…
    Very bad spanish politicans and very bad spanish scientist…


  8. Sorry, but a Drumbeat of exactly 2 minutes period (no 2.01 no 1.99) is to close to an arbitray human time division. It really looks like the folks doing the Fourier transform (post-procesing of the signal) did something wrong. It really looks like corrupted software.

    • pretty sure (based on comments on other threads) that the 2min drumming pulses were the ships measuring the seafloor – but the newer pulsing does seem natural but perhaps not drumbeats and rather ‘chugging’,

      check out the thread called ‘Some points on El Hierro seismic’

    • Hi, it looks like drumbeats to me , but I am a learner. There are many more knowledgeable people on here who will know.

  9. Pingback: El Hierro Volcano eruption (Canary Islands) : Part 16 – November 28 until December 2

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