“How strangely Fogo burns, amidst an ocean full of flying fishes” & The Friday Night Riddles!

Fogo - aerial shot taken from an Airbus cockpit 2008. Photo by Aldo Bien, Wikipedia.

Fogo – aerial shot taken from an Airbus cockpit 2008. Photo by Aldo Bien, Wikipedia.

We apologize for coming out a bit late with this article on Fogo, but as you all know, Real Life does not care for our hobbies. Yet, it is still in good time as the news from Fogo are not getting less, in the opposite, more and increasingly sad news can be read throughout the internet and local news papers.
December 1, 2014: “Today, Tuesday, is the worst of the 10 days of volcanic eruption on the island of Fogo with Portela village wrapped in flames, ash and the tears of people who once built their lives there…

Lava destroying private property (courtesy of Fogo News)

Lava destroying private property (courtesy of Fogo News)

Some people ventured closer to get a better view of the rare eruption. Photo: BBC

Some people ventured closer to get a better view of the rare eruption. Photo: BBC


Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 15 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. Located 570 kilometres (350 miles) off the coast of Western Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi). It is independent from Portugal since 1975.

Fogo Island. Kartographie: Lucete Fortes/Pitt Reitmaier Design: Pitt Reitmaier

Fogo Island. Kartographie: Lucete Fortes/Pitt Reitmaier Design: Pitt Reitmaier

Fogo (or Ilha do Fogo, Portuguese for “Isle of Fire”) is the most prominent island of the Sotavento group of Cape Verde: it rises to nearly 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above sea level at its summit, Pico do Fogo. Fogo was discovered in 1460 by a Genovese captain António Noli on behalf of Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese Crown, and was first called São Filipe, Saint Philip, in Portuguese. The Portuguese settled the island in 1500. There are now two main cities in the island: São Filipe (the capital) and Mosteiros. Fogo gained its current fiery name before the 1680 eruption, since a madrigal “The Andalusian Merchant” by Thomas Weelkes (?-1623) sings “how strangely Fogo burns, amidst an ocean full of flying fishes”. There are now two cities in the island: São Filipe and Mosteiros.

The island of Fogo has active volcanoes with marked intensity at Chã das Caldeiras, a double depression generated from a caldera collapse and flank sliding event. The eastern half of the caldera is occupied by the main cone – Pico de Fogo. The peak reaches a height of 2.829 meters, crowned by a 500 m wide and 180m deep crater. In Fogo eruptions take place at intervals of 20-30 years on average. The more remarkable eruptions occurred in 1785, with the formation of deltas and coastal lava platforms on the eastern seaboard, 1799, 1847, 1852, 1857, 1991, 1995 – and the current eruption. The eruptions have caused significant damage to the local economy but no casualties, except for the 1847 eruption, which was accompanied by earthquakes, that claimed human lives. Several thousand people live in small villages and towns within the western half of the caldera.

The island of Fogo is an immense volcanic edifice measuring 25 km in diameter and 81 km in perimeter, which rises 7000 m from the bottom of the ocean, in which about 100 minor cones have opened, all located on the radial fractures affecting the island. The whole of the central depression has a perimeter of 9 km and 2 km in width. The caldera rim, called Serra da Bordeira, reaches heights ranging from 400 to 1,000 m at the Mount Liso da Fonte. For some authors there are two calderas separated by a ridge located north of Portela. These two calderas would have lengths of 4.5 km (the Northern one), and 5.5 km (the Southern). Both historical and recent eruptions occurred parallel to the perimeter of the main edifice and very sporadically in the central crater – the last central crater eruption took place in 1799.

Chã das Caldeiras before the latest eruption. Wikimedia Commons

Chã das Caldeiras before the latest eruption. Wikimedia Commons


Image NASA Nov. 25, 2014

Image NASA Nov. 25, 2014

On November 23, 2014, the Fogo volcano in the Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) islands began erupting for the first time in nineteen years. It began with an explosive eruption followed by lava fountaining. Between two vents a new rift ripped open and produced three lava streams down into the caldera. Spewing thick lava and a plume of gases, the volcano has not yet claimed any lives, though it has altered many. According to news and scientific reports, so far the new eruption is the largest since 1951. According to news reports, no deaths have been caused

Nov. 2014 eruption (courtesy of INVOLCAN-OVCV)

Nov. 2014 eruption (courtesy of INVOLCAN-OVCV)

by the eruption because local residents and visitors were timely evacuated. The main road to the villages of Bangaeira and Portela has been overrun by lava, and most of the buildings at the nearby national park have been destroyed. A sizable portion of the land consumed by the eruption was covered with vineyards, so officials are concerned about the loss of a key crop.


Starting today a team of scientists from the C4G Consortium, which integrates 11 Portuguese universities, will proceed into the installation of instruments for volcano monitoring. A total of 10 seismometers and 7 GPS devices will be placed in the caldera and its vicinity to monitor, in real time, the seismic activity and possible ground deformation regarding new magma ascent. Leading the team is Dr. Segundo Rui. Currently are working in the area of Chã das Caldeira scientific teams of the volcanological Observatory of Cape Verde (OVCV), of the Instituto Volcanologic de Canarias (INVOLCAN) and a team of English volcanologists.

Human and technical resources of INVOLCAN (Canary Islands) went to Cape Verde to help to take records on current eruption. The results of their research from material collected of the volcanic plumes (that have reached up to 5,000 meters high) showed Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions up to 12,000 tons a day.
The first preliminary results obtained by the use of optical remote sensing type miniDOAS, reflect the rate of emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2) recorded on November 28, 2014, 5 days after the onset of the eruption, was of 8.350 ± 1,344 tons a day, registering an increase of 11.926 ± 3.379 tons per day on November 29, 2014. For the calculation of these emissions, in addition to transects with optimal remote sensors type minDOAS in terrestrial mobile position (vehicles) or mobile position air (helicopters), scientists need to know the speed and direction of the wind between 3,000 and 5,000 meters height provided by the Toulouse VAAC Center. Volcanic gas emissions reflect the amount, depth and content of volatiles in magma inside the volcanic system and is an important monitoring tool to elucidate the changes in volcanic activity. Usually the rate of emission of volcanic gases from an eruption refers mainly to the amount of emitted sulphur dioxide (SO2) – one of the main components of volcanic gases, which is easier to detect by remote sensing than other components in volcanic gases.

Fogo. Lava bubble just before fountaining (courtesy of INVOLCAN-OVCV)

Fogo. Lava bubble just before fountaining (courtesy of INVOLCAN-OVCV)

Fogo Radar observation – Sentinel 1: Deformation on the ground causes changes in radar signals that appear as rainbow-coloured patterns. Scientists can use the deformation patterns to understand the subsurface pathways of molten rock moving towards the surface. In this case, the radar shows that the magma travelled along a crack at least 1 km wide. “By acquiring regular images from Sentinel-1, we will be able to monitor magma movement in the subsurface, even before eruptions take place, and use the data to provide warnings,” said Tim Wright from the University of Leeds and director of the UK Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics. This is particularly valuable in places with few sensors on the ground. (Thanks to reader Virtual for this interesting link!)

Eruption filmed on Fogo island (Cape Verde) in the night of 29-11-2014 by “kapverdischeinseln”


Before.... and after. The newly built visitor center of the National Park has been completely destroyed (courtesy of Fogo News)

Before…. and after. The newly built visitor center of the National Park has been completely destroyed (courtesy of Fogo News)

Nov. 30, 2014 According to Infopress (Fogo News) about 9 o’ clock in the morning the building of the headquarters of the Natural Park of Fogo has been totally consumed by the lava that has increased its speed to 20 m/h. According to the volcanologist Dr. Sonia Silva on Saturday sulphur dioxide emissions emitted by the volcano was estimated to a 8,000 tons, while today this value has increased to up to 12,000 tons. For the scientist, this increase implies a deterioration of the eruption conditions. In the last hours, according to INVOLCAN members, the eruptive dynamics has changed from strombolian to vulcanian, with the onset of powerful explosions.

Nov. 30, 2014 (INVOLCAN) Report of a rapid change in the behavior of the volcano, experiencing a brusc variation between eruptive styles. The presence of lava fountains and strombolian phase has begun to alternate with vulcanian phases dominated by violent explosions. The lava flows have resumed their advance and is proceeding with the evacuation of people who remain in Cha das Caldeiras.

Dec. 2, 2014 (OceanPress) Despite the instability of the volcano and the damage caused by the same, the mayor of São Filipe, Luís Pires appears to be optimistic about the future of agriculture in Chã das Caldeiras, the main source of wealth on Fogo Island. “The few lands that remained will be suficient, so we are thinking about new technologies of agricultural production will be activated in this locality wih good climate”, he grants in an interview with Radio Renascença. “I understand that everything is not lost. Chã das Caldeiras, as agri-industrial and turistic potential, will be reborn greatly after this eruption”, completes the mayor of the city of duplexes.

Dec. 3, 2014 (Fogo News) This Friday 4th a ship of the Portuguese Navy, “Alvares Cabral”, arrives to the city port, with a helicopter, which is providing humanitarian support to those affected by the volcanic eruption in Fogo. Concerned about the [Wine]Cellar and the road, the President of Civil Protection on Fogo Island says the device will facilitate the circulation and the supply of staff who will be in Cha das Caldeiras. According to Luis Pires, will be also the coming of important telecommunications equipment and even aid goods such as beds, blankets and masks.

Dec. 3, 2014 (Fogo News) Cape Verde had sufficient data to predict eruption in Fogo – Available data from the Technological Institute of Renewable Energy of the Canary Islands (ITER) indicated a strong possibility of a volcanic eruption on the island of Fogo – Was it heeded by the authorities?

Lava destroyed school, Hotel Pedra Brabo and several houses of Portela, 02-12-2014

Lava destroyed school, Hotel Pedra Brabo and several houses of Portela, 02-12-2014 (Courtesy of “Capverde.com”)

Residents from the villages down in the caldera carry their important belongings uphill to save them from being burnt by the fast advancing lava. Photo: BBC

Residents from the villages down in the caldera carry their important belongings uphill to save them from being burnt by the fast advancing lava. Photo: BBC

Renato Rio started this post on Fogo but could not finish it because of rl obligations.
Also thanks to our readers for links and info!


Dec. 3, 2014 (rtc TV): 70% of the village Portela have now been destroyed… see latest Video (thanks Renato!)

Dec. 5, 2014 (GEOVOL): Activity at Fogo increased in the last hours. A very fluid lava has been emitted since yesterday from the vent at the bottom of the eruptive fissure at a speed of 3m/min. It follows a path parallel to the previous one to Portela village. In the video courtesy of Fogo News
http://videos.sapo.pt/JNHOwDA6NEf4bSPr7a99 its fluidity can be seen. Also the reporter speaks of water tanks being contaminatedand which supply Tinteiras population, following the fall of volcanic ash. – Another issue at hand is the discussion on neglected responsibilities. INVOLCAN, monitoring and assessing the processes in Fogo, had sent an early warning to Cabo Verde in last March, stating that the volcano showed clear signs of serious unrest with the possibility of an eruption. That letter had not been answered, and obviously people were not sufficiently prepared when the eruption started
Dec. 5, 2014 (OceanPress):

Lavastream– Fogo Eruption opens new front of lava: The situation may become worse with a possible volume of lava that may leave the city of Portela completely buried and may reach Bangaeira and in a worst scenario, the city of the Mosteiros… – The municipality of Santa Catarina, on Fogo Island, plans to build a new village for the displaced from Chã das Caldeiras in “Somada”, a town between Achada Furna and Monte Largo … However, the inhabitants of the town of Chã das Caldeiras are not enthusiastic about this project, as they prefer the new village to be built in the region of Monte Velho…
– Professionals working in the caldera suffer health problems from toxic volcanic gases…

NEWS and VIDEOS (fb=facebook)
Observatório Vulcanológico de Cabo Verde (OVCV) (fb)
Grupo de Investigación GEOVOL (fb)
Ocean Press
Capeverde (fb)
Fogo News
Mark Szeglat’s Volcano Blog (in German)
– kapverdischeinseln

Wikipedia, Fogo
Gonçalves: Vulcanologia e seus Impactos no Concelho de Santa Catarina–ilha do Fogo
Correia/Costa: (Concise description of the Fogo eruption 1995 and its consequences, in Portugese)
Ocean Press article Dec. 2, 2014
Many Infos and images were used from the above mentioned fb accounts.


238 thoughts on ““How strangely Fogo burns, amidst an ocean full of flying fishes” & The Friday Night Riddles!

  1. El Hierro – While searching for updates on Fogo I was surprised to find this on the INVOLCAN site. Though everybody assumed at the time (June 2012) that an eruption could be in progress, it was always denied by the authorities. Half a year later it was first acknowledged locally, that there indeed had been an eruption. Yesterday INVOLCAN had this on their pages (Giggle translated):
    …reaffirms that near the west coast of El Hierro in June 2012, a second submarine eruptive process took place in the Meridian Island. The work was recently published by Bulletin of Volcanology, the offcial journal of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI). The manifestation of this underwater volcanic activity has been revealed through acoustic images of volcanic plumes submarines detected by a 20-kHz TOPAS PS18 aboard the oceanographic ship Hesperides last June 28, 2012. The five volcanic plumes observed “filamentary” emanating from the flanks of mounds were recognized between 64 and 88 meters pronfundidad located on the continental shelf west of El Hierro. These plumes show up well on TOPAS profiles as “flares” of high acoustic impedance in contrast within the water column. Moreover, these volcanic plumes submarines were also visible through floating white patches on the surface of the sea that were reported through aerial photographs taken on July 3, 2012, five days after the acoustic images of volcanic plumes by the Oceanographic Ship Hesperides were recorded. In addition, several geophysical and geochemical data support the fact that these underwater vents were preceded by several warning signs: (i) a sharp increase in the release of seismic energy and the number of daily earthquakes of magnitude ≥ 2.5 recorded on June 25 2012, (ii) significant vertical and horizontal displacements observed by GPS Canaria (University of Nagoya-ITER-GRAFCAN) with elevations up to 3 cm in 24 hours on 25 to 26 June 2012, (iii) a significant increase network activity of radon gas since late April to early June 2012 reaching maximum values ​​of 2.7 kBq / m3 on June 3, 2012, and (iv) detecting a peak in the register of the issue Helium-3 on June 16, 2012. The combination of this information from the submarine and subaerial environment, suggest that these plumes are the result of undersea volcanic vents exhaled gas mixed with ash as a result of a volcanic event associated with a rapid rise of a volatile-rich magma located west of El Hierro. Reference Nemesio M. Pérez, Luis Somoza, Pedro A. Hernandez, Luis González de Vallejo, Ricardo León, Takeshi Sagita, Ander Biain, Francisco J. González, Teresa Medialdea, José Canyons, Jesús Ibáñez, Hirochika Sumino, Kenji Nogami and Carmen Romero (2014). Evidence from acoustic imaging for submarine volcanic activity in 2012 off the west coast of El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain). Bulletin of Volcanology, 76: 882, DOI 10.1007 / s00445-014-0882-y ( http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00445-014-0882-y )

    Image: Location submarine volcanic plumes west of the island of El Hierro on July 28, 2012 (red dots), geochemistry HIE02 INVOLCAN station and GPS Network GPS Canaria composed of ITER, Nagoya University and GRAFCAN antennas.
    – First published article from 2013-02-05 here:

    • “Reference Nemesio M. Pérez, ”

      Now there is a real surprise…. (not). The very same sack-o- … that supressed information. As suspected, he was just looking to feather his nest. Can’t let some damned amateurs noodle out what is actually going on.

      I really really hope he enjoys the karma he has earned.

        • It’s a good thing that I can self-censor. I had my comeback by placing his not so nice email in the video explaining why I was no longer making videos with the data from processing of that data. It’s good to see that he proved that we were right all along about his motivations. El Hierro got off lucky. That edifice could just as easily suffered a flank collapse or worse, and with self serving entities like him around… people could have died horrible deaths due to his oddly skewed priorities. If all I managed were to get responsible people (you know, the ones who actually have integrity) to pay attention to El Hierro, I am quite happy.

          During that event, or the events leading up to it, Carl made an error in the name of one of the political types there. He inadvertently called him by the last name of “Perfido.” I think it was for that wing-nut that was calling for an amateur underwater photo contest… of an actively erupting undersea cone… that was making the water acidic enough to kill passing fish. I think at times they had some water samples with pH-5 or so, but I’m not sure. I think that Carl’s accidental naming was mis-placed… Nemisio would have been a suitable candidate.

          Meh, water under the bridge. It’s the citizens of El Hierro’s problem, not mine. Hell, their government officials may actually care about them and this is just some oddity of human society. Who is to say?

            • GL Edit: Removed content to preserve the decorum of the forum.

              Phil R posted a salient response to my somewhat abrasive post above. His point is valid, though I still carry my original opinion. The content of his response has been preserved should he contest it’s removal.

            • GL Edit: Again, content removed to preserve decorum. Should Phil R desire to take this up via e-mail, that is doable. I just think that this topic is too volatile to remain here on the cafe.

              {This is a self edit}

            • Apologies to GL and all for going OT. It’s late here, but not an excuse. I think I’ll just lurk quietly for a while.

            • No need for that, you were correct. My comment gave the impression that the entire department was like that and I am aware that they are not. Like you, I was tired and frustrated and was not specific enough with my statement. The topic has been something that has been grating on me for a while, and has developed into a pet theory with regards to those who succumb to the adrenalin high.

              As for your commentary here on VC, no need to be silent. dragons are people too, so I acted on your behalf and admonished the offending party.

            • GL, I know the thread and topic has moved on, but thanks. I’m relatively new here (as I think a lot of people are who found this site searching for info about BB). I saw your second snip and hope I didn’t accidentally post twice. If so, that wasn’t my intention; I have a slow computer.

            • Well, I was of a mind to ban the offending party, but that would have taken away my ability to remedy the issue. 🙂

              It would have been a first for VC though, a dragon doing a self ban. (intentionally)

              I’m not out of the woods yet through, the other dragons could still take issue with it and kick me to the curb.

  2. From the posts yesterday evening (5th December), I see the deposits on BB1 melted, did BB2 clear up as well or is it still iced up?
    I am back at work again, so missing the live video feeds 😦

  3. OT – Phil R = no, on second thoughts: better not to reply.

    Colin: the mist has just covered Mila2 aqain. A few minutes ago Baugur was steadily burning though.

  4. Thirty years after the Skaftár fires (Laki), a Scotsman named Ebenezer Henderson published a travelogue about Iceland which provides us with one of the best descriptions of the event. He writes the following:

    IT not only appears to have been more tremendous in its phenomena than any recorded in the modern annals of Iceland, but it was followed by a train of consequences the most direful and melancholy, some of which continue to be felt to this day. Immense floods of red-hot lava were poured down from the hills with amazing velocity, and, spreading over the low country, burnt up men, cattle, churches, houses, and every thing they attacked in their progress. Not only was all vegetation, in the immediate neighbourhood of the volcano, destroyed by the ashes, brimstone, and pumice, which it emitted; but, being borne up to an inconceivable height in the atmosphere, they were scattered over the whole island, impregnating the air with noxious vapours, intercepting the genial rays of the sun, and empoisoning whatever could satisfy the hunger or quench the thirst of man and beast. Even in some of the more distant districts, the quantity of ashes that fell was so great, that they were gathered up by handfuls.

    Upwards of four hundred people were instantly deprived of a home; the fish were driven from the coasts, and the elements seemed to vie with each other which should commit the greatest depredations; famine and pestilence stalked abroad, and cut down their victims with ruthless cruelty; while death himself was glutted with the prey. In some houses there was scarcely a sound individual left to tend the afflicted, or any who possessed sufficient strength to inter the dead. The most miserably emaciated tottering skeletons were seen in every quarter. When the animals that had died of hunger and disease were consumed, the wretched creatures had nothing to eat but raw hides, and old pieces of leather and ropes, which they boiled and devoured with avidity.

    The horses ate the flesh off one another, and for want of other sustenance had recourse to turf, wood, and even excrementitious substances; while the sheep devoured each other’s wool. In a word, the accumulation of miseries, originating in the volcanic eruption, was so dreadful, that, in the short space of two years, not fewer than 9,336 human beings, 28,000 horses, 11,461 head of cattle, and 190,488 sheep perished on the island!

  5. Thanks VolcanoCafe, BBC, Youtube, and all contributors for such richly detailed account. In America, this has not even been mentioned once any of the so called international news organizations.

    • You are welcome Samora! I guess a disaster in a small poor Atlantic island is not enough of a scandal for the news sharks 😀

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