During the last week of June, the Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela Island came to life, erupting after months of increased activity and seismic grumbling. This presents a great opportunity to see an amazing sight in the islands from safe distances that give you an eagle’s eye view of the action.
The volcano sits on the southeastern side of the island, and lava is flowing from fissures into the caldera and to the north towards Elizabeth Bay, away from the main town of Puerto Villamil.
The Galapagos Islands are well-versed when it comes to volcanoes erupting. Their very existence is due to the fact that they sit above a hot spot in the sea floor- a point where the mantle of the Earth gives way to magma, causing underwater eruptions that build up over millions of years until they break the surface.
Most of the islands were formed this way, and when coupled with the shifting plates of the planet-explains the geographic origins of the archipelago. The older islands are those in the east, having shifted away from the hot spot and boasting extinct volcano cones, lava tunnels, and collapsed lava chambers that offer both land and water highlights to explore.
The western islands are still active with volcanic activity as they are they are the youngest and still reside over the hotspot deep under the sea.
Sierra Negra has the second largest caldera in the world-six miles in diameter. When dormant the volcano is a sought after hike, for visitors to the island. Presently the area is closed to visitors and the neighboring communities have been evacuated as a safety precaution. A few fast facts for those concerned about traveling to the islands.