The Tagoro volcano turns ten years old

Until the outbreak of September 19 in the Cumbre Vieja area, the Tagoro eruption, in the waters of El Hierro, was listed as the last eruptive episode recorded in the Archipelago. And precisely today marks a decade since the beginning of a singular process of underwater volcanism that took place, paradoxically, in the Mar de Las Calmas, near the nucleus of La Restinga, one of the most important marine reserves in Europe. That phenomenon of nature, which was announced between a succession of earthquakes and disturbing bubbles, attracted all eyes to the Meridian Island, converted for scholars into an open-air laboratory, while the alarm spread among the inhabitants of the city. geologically youngest island in the archipelago.

On October 22, the ship Ramón Margalef, from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), was already sailing through the waters of El Hierro and just two days later, scientists found the volcanic cone, the youngest ever mapped until then. The volcano had a diameter at the base of 700 meters, a height of 100 and a crater 120 wide.

On October 27, the first images of the volcano were obtained by direct methods. For this, in addition to the Liropus2000, the Politolana photogrammetric sled was counted, and on November 5, unprecedented values ​​were recorded: the water was in extreme conditions that had never been measured in any ocean in the world. The dissolved oxygen was almost zero, the acid concentration was a thousand times higher than under normal conditions, and the temperature in the first 200 meters of the water column had risen by more than 10 degrees.

In the following three months, new bathymetries were succeeded, and thanks to the maps obtained, the evolution of the volcano could be analyzed, observing how the mouths multiplied to later unify and how it grew in height before collapsing.

Years after the end of the eruption in El Hierro, the volcano, which is 88 meters deep, continues to expel significant amounts of iron into the ocean that “have been naturally fertilizing those waters and fostering an explosion of life in which it will probably be the first National Marine Park in Spain ”, as recorded in a study carried out by four researchers from the Institute of Oceanography and Global Change of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (IOCAG).

Scientific discrepancies

While some scientists affirm that life was returning to those seabed at full speed, that the Tagoro explosion had created “optimal conditions for the regeneration of the area”, by raising dissolved iron levels well above normal. and reduce the pH of the water, others argue, on the contrary, that the eruption did not produce any biological fertilization that accelerated the recovery of the marine ecosystem.

According to these researchers, changes in both the abundance of phytoplankton and chlorophyll in the waters south of El Hierro also occurred in the rest of the Archipelago, mainly due to natural seasonal variability, and in part, also to the interannual variability caused by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Despite these discrepancies, fishermen and divers perceive the resurgence of underwater life after the Tagoro eruption. Ten years ago.

The birth of the restingolites

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