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El Hierro Braced For Eruption

Friday September 30, 2011

El Hierro Braced For Eruption

There are growing fears of a volcanic eruption on the small Canary Island of El Hierro. As the island was subjected to an earthquake registering 3.8 on the Richter scale on Tuesday, after recording over 8,000 tremors since mid July. As a result 50 residents have been evacuated from their homes in the area known as Frontera, whilst plans are being laid for a full scale evacuation of the island.

Experts recorded 100 tremors on El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, on Tuesday, raising fears of an imminent explosion. At least 50 people were ordered to leave their homes and the army has been called in to prepare for a possible evacuation of the island. Schools on El Hierro, home to 10,000 people, have been closed and a tunnel linking its two main towns has been shut.

Volcano expert Juan Carlos Carrecedo said: "There is a ball of magma rising to the surface producing a series of ruptures which generate seismic activity. We don't know if that ball of magma will break through the crust and cause an eruption." However, he warned that an eruption was possible 'in days, weeks or months'.

El Hierro is popular with British tourists looking for quiet sunshine holidays away from the bustle of neighbouring islands such as Tenerife and Lanzarote. Some experts said a volcanic explosion could actually attract tourists to El Hierro.

Eumenio Ancochea, volcanologist at Madrid's Complutense University, said: "An eruption could fill the island with people interested in these phenomena. At present experts are predicting that the areas most likely to see an eruption are at El Julan and in Mar de Las Calmas, with a possibility that the main focal point of seismic activity will be under the sea."

"It's normal that people are scared but there is no danger. After an eruption the lava advances at a few metres per hour and you can easily take photographs as it descends." More than 8,000 tremors have been registered on El Hierro since July 19. Only 15 of them have been strong enough for locals to notice, but on Tuesday an earthquake of 3.8 on the Richter scale was felt all over the island.

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