Skip to main content

Evidence from acoustic imaging for submarine volcanic activity in 2012 off the west coast of El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain)

Abstract

We report precursory geophysical, geodetic, and geochemical signatures of a new submarine volcanic activity observed off the western coast of El Hierro, Canary Islands. Submarine manifestation of this activity has been revealed through acoustic imaging of submarine plumes detected on the 20-kHz chirp parasound subbottom profiler (TOPAS PS18) mounted aboard the Spanish RV Hespérides on June 28, 2012. Five distinct “filament-shaped” acoustic plumes emanating from the flanks of mounds have been recognized at water depth between 64 and 88 m on a submarine platform located NW El Hierro. These plumes were well imaged on TOPAS profiles as “flares” of high acoustic contrast of impedance within the water column. Moreover, visible plumes composed of white rafts floating on the sea surface and sourcing from the location of the submarine plumes were reported by aerial photographs on July 3, 2012, 5 days after acoustic plumes were recorded. In addition, several geophysical and geochemical data support the fact that these submarine vents were preceded by several precursory signatures: (i) a sharp increase of the seismic energy release and the number of daily earthquakes of magnitude ≥2.5 on June 25, 2012, (ii) significant vertical and horizontal displacements observed at the Canary Islands GPS network (Nagoya University-ITER-GRAFCAN) with uplifts up to 3 cm from June 25 to 26, 2012, (iii) an anomalous increase of the soil gas radon activity, from the end of April until the beginning of June reaching peak values of 2.7 kBq/m3 on June 3, 2012, and (iv) observed positive peak in the air-corrected value of 3He/4He ratio monitored in ground waters (8.5 atmospheric 3He/4He ratio (R A)) at the northwestern El Hierro on June 16, 2012. Combining these submarine and subaerial information, we suggest these plumes are the consequence of submarine vents exhaling volcanic gas mixed with fine ash as consequence of an event of rapid rise of volatile-rich magma beneath the NW submarine ridge of El Hierro. These precursory signals have revealed important to improve and optimize the detection of early warning signals of volcanic unrest episodes at El Hierro.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12

References

  • Altamimi Z, Collilieux X, Metivier L (2011) ITRF2008: an improved solution of the international terrestrial reference frame. J Geophys Res 85:457–473

    Google Scholar 

  • Baker ET, Massoth GJ (1987) Characteristics of hydrothermal plumes from two vent fields on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, northeast Pacific Ocean. Earth Planet Sci Lett 85:59–73

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Benson B, Krause D Jr (1980) Isotope fractionation of helium during solution: a probe for the liquid state. J Solut Chem 9:895–909

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blanco-Montenegro I, Nicolosi I, Pignatelli A, Chiappini M (2008) Magnetic imaging of the feeding system of oceanic volcanic islands: El Hierro (Canary Islands). Geophys J Int 173:339–350

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burgisser A, Bergantz GW (2002) Reconciling pyroclastic flow and surge: the multiphase physics of pyroclastic density currents. Earth Planet Sci Lett 202:405–418

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Capasso G, Carapezza ML, Federico C, Inguaggiato S, Rizzo A (2005) Geochemical monitoring of the 2002–2003 eruption at Stromboli volcano (Italy): precursory changes in the carbon and helium isotopic composition of fumarole gases and thermal waters. Bull Volcanol 68:118–134. doi:10.1007/s00445-005-0427-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carracedo JC (1994) The Canary Islands: an example of structural control on the growth of large oceanic-island volcanoes. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 60:225–241

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chiharu A, Matsumoto R, Akihiro H (2007) Acoustical surveys of methane plumes using a quantitative echosounder in Japan Sea. 5th International Symposium on Underwater Technology, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Converse DR, Holland HD, Edmond JM (1984) Flow rates in the axial hot springs of the East Pacific Rise (21° N): implications for the heat budget and the formation of massive sulphide deposits. Earth Planet Sci Lett 69:159–175

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dach R, Hugentobler U, Fridez P, Meindl M (2007) Bernese GPS Software version 5.0, University of Berne, 612 pp

  • Dybedal J, Boe R (1994) Ultra-high resolution sub-bottom profiling for detection of thin layers and objects, OCEANS’94, Oceans Engineering for Today’s Technology and Tomorrow’s Preservation Proceedings, Osates, Brest 1, 634–638

  • Friedman P, Vadakoot V, Meyer W Jr, Carey S (2007) Instability threshold of a negatively buoyant fountain. Exp Fluids 42:751–759

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Friedman P, Carey S, Raessi M (2012) Influence of volatile degassing on initial flow structure and entrainment during undersea volcanic fire fountaining eruptions. Nat Sci 4:1002

    Google Scholar 

  • García-Yeguas A, Ibáñez JM, Koulakov I, Jakovlev A, Romero-Ruiz MC, Prudencio J (2014) Seismic tomography model reveals mantle magma sources of recent volcanic activity at El Hierro Island (Canary Islands, Spain). Geophys J Int 199(3):1739–1750. doi:10.1093/gji/ggu339

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greinert J, Artemov Y, Egorov V, De Batist M, McGinnis D (2006) 1300-m-high rising bubbles from mud volcanoes at 2080 m in the Black Sea: hydroacoustic characteristics and temporal variability. Earth Plan Sci Lett 244:1–15

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guillou H, Carracedo JC, Pérez-Torrado F, Rodríguez Badiola E (1996) K-Ar ages and magnetic stratigraphy of a hotspot-induced, fast grown oceanic island: El Hierro, Canary Islands. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 73:141–155. doi:10.1016/0377-0273(96)00021-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hay AE (1984) Remote acoustic imaging of the plume from a submarine spring in an Arctic fjord. Science 225:1154–1156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Head JW, Wilson L (2003) Deep submarine pyroclastic eruptions: theory and predicted landforms and deposits. J Volcanol Geoth Res 151:155–193

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hernández Pacheco A, Vals MC (1982) The historical eruptions of La Palma Island (Canarias), Arquipelago. Rev Univ Azores Ser C Nat 3:83–94

    Google Scholar 

  • Ibáñez JM, De Angelis S, Díaz-Moreno, Hernández PA , Alguacil G, Posadas A, Pérez N (2012) Insights into the 2011–2012 submarine eruption off the coast of El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain) from statistical analyses of earthquake activity. Geophys J Int 191:659–670. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05629.x

  • Kumagai H, Tsukioka S, Yamamoto H, Tsuji T, Shitashima K, Asada M, Yamamoto F, Kinoshita M (2010) Hydrothermal plumes imaged by high-resolution side-scan sonar on a cruising AUV, Urashima. Geochem Geophys Geosys 11(12), Q12013. doi:10.1029/2010GC003337

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • La Rocca M, McCausland W, Galluzzo D, Malone S, Saccorotti G, Del Pezzo E (2005) Array measurements of deep tremor signals in the Cascadia subduction zone. Geophys Res Lett 32:L21319. doi:10.1029/2005GL023974

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • La Rocca M, Creager KC, Galluzzo D, Malone S, Vidale JE, Sweet JR, Wech AG (2009) Cascadia tremor located near plate interface constrained by S minus P wave times. Science 323(5914):620–623. doi:10.1126/science.1167112

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Longpré MA, Klügel A, Diehl A, Stix J (2014) Mixing in mantle magma reservoirs prior to and during the 2011–2012 eruption at El Hierro. Canary Islands. Geology. doi:10.1130/G35165.1

    Google Scholar 

  • Macdonald K, Becker CK, Speiss FN, Ballard RD (1980) Hydrothermal heat flux of the ‘black smoker’ vents on the East Pacific Rise. Earth Planet Sci Lett 4:1–7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Masson DG (1996) Catastrophic collapse of the volcanic island of Hierro 15 ka ago and the history of landslides in the Canary Islands. Geology 24(3):231–234. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1996)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matsuda J, Matsumoto T, Sumino H, Nagao K, Yamamoto J, Miura Y, Kaneoka I, Takahata N, Sano Y (2002) The 3He/4He ratio of the new internal He standard of Japan HESJ. Geochem J 36:191–195

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Melián G, Hernández PA, Padrón E, Pérez NM, Barrancos J, Padilla G, Dionis S, Rodríguez F, Calvo D, Nolasco D (2014) Spatial and temporal variations of diffuse CO2 degassing at El Hierro volcanic system: relation to the 2011–2012 submarine eruption. J Geophys Res Solid Earth 119:6976–6991. doi:10.1002/2014JB011013

    Google Scholar 

  • Middleton GV, Hampton MA (1976) Subaqueous sediment transport and deposition by sediment gravity flows. In: Stanley DJ, Swift DJP (eds) Marine sediment transport and environmental management. John Wiley, New York, pp 197–218

    Google Scholar 

  • Mogi K (1958) Relations between the eruptions of various volcanoes and the deformations of the ground surface around them. Bull Earthq Res Inst 36:99–134

    Google Scholar 

  • Navarro JM, Soler C (1994) El agua en El Hierro, Resumen del Avance del Plan Hidrológico. Public. Cabildo de El Hierro Con. O.P. Gob. Canarias. 1–59 (in Spanish)

  • Orr MH, Hess FR (1978) Remote acoustic monitoring of natural suspensate distributions, active suspensate resuspension and slope/shelf water intrusions. J Geophys Res 83:4062–4068

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Padilla G, Hernández PA, Padrón E, Barrancos J, Pérez NM, Melián G, Nolasco D, Dionis S, Rodríguez F, Calvo D, Hernández I (2013) Soil gas radon emissions and volcanic activity at El Hierro (Canary Islands): the 2011–2012 submarine eruption. Geochem Geophys Geosys 14(2):432/447. doi:10.1029/2012GC004375

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Padrón E, Pérez NM, Hernández PA, Sumino H, Melián G, Barrancos J, Nolasco D, Padilla G, Dionis S, Rodríguez F, Hernández I, Calvo D, Peraza MD, Nagao K (2013) Diffusive helium emissions as a precursory sign of volcanic unrest. Geology. doi:10.1130/G34027.1

    Google Scholar 

  • Palmer DR, Rona PA, Mottl MJ (1986) The acoustics of ‘black smoker’ hydrothermal plumes. J Acoust Soc Am 80:888–898

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pérez NM, Padilla G, Padrón E, Hernández PA, Melián G, Barrancos J, Dionis S, Nolasco D, Rodríguez F, Calvo D, Hernández I (2012) Precursory diffuse CO2 and H2S emission signatures of the 2011–2012 El Hierro submarine eruption, Canary Islands. Geophys Res Lett 39:L16311. doi:10.1029/2012GL052410

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pinault JL, Baubron JC (1996) Signal processing of soil gas radon, atmospheric pressure, moisture and soil temperature data: a new approach for radon concentration modeling. J Geophys Res 101(B2):3157–3171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rivera J, Lastras G, Canals M, Acosta J, Arrese B, Hermida N, Micallef A, Tello O, Amblas D (2013) Construction of an oceanic island: insights from the El Hierro (Canary Islands) 2011–2012 submarine volcanic eruption. Geology 41:355–358

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rona PA, Palmer DR, Jones C, Chayes DA, Czarnecki M, Carey EW, Guerrero J (1991) Acoustic imaging of hydrothermal plumes. East Pacific Rise, 21° N, 109° W. Geophys Res Lett 18:2233–2236

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rona PA, Bemis KG, Silver D, Jones CD (2002) Acoustic imaging, visualization, and quantification of buoyant hydrothermal plumes in the ocean. Marine Geophys Res 23:147–168

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sagiya T, Barrancos J, Calvo D, Padrón E, Padilla G, Hernández PA, Pérez NM (2012) Crustal Deformation During the 2011 Volcanic Crisis of El Hierro, Canary Islands, Revealed by Continuous GPS Observation EGU Reference Shelf, 14, EGU

  • Sandri L, Marzocchi W, Zaccarelli L (2004) A new perspective in identifying the precursory patterns of eruptions. Bull Volcanol 66(3):263–275

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith DK, Cann JR (1992) The role of seamount volcanism in crustal construction at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (24°–30°N). J Geophys Res 97:1,645–1,658. doi:10.1029/91JB02507

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith DK, Jordan TH (1987) Seamount statistics in the Pacific Ocean. J Geophys Res 93(2):899–2,918. doi:10.1029/JB093iB04p02899

    Google Scholar 

  • Somoza L, Martinez-Frías J, Smellie JL, Rey J, Maestro A (2004) Evidence for hydrothermal venting and sediment volcanism discharged after recent short-lived volcanic eruptions at Deception Island, Bransfeld Strait, Antarctica. Marine Geol 203:119–140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Somoza L, Vázquez JT, González-Aller D, Dañobeitia JJ, Medialdea T, Moya AJ, Fernández- Salas LM, León R, Jurado MJ, Paredes M, Palomino D, Vargas I, González FJ, López-Rodríguez M, Corbalán A, González P, Hernández-Puentes MP, Martín-Jiménez D (2012) Geophysical and hydroacoustic study of the active submarine volcanism in the El Hierro Island (Canarian Archipelago). Geo-Temas 13, Geol Soc Spain 601–605

  • Sparks RSJ (2003) Forecasting volcanic eruptions. Earth Planet Sci Lett 210:1–15

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sparks RSM, Bursik I, Carey SN, Gilbert JS, Glaze LS, Sigurdsson H, Woods AW (1997) Volcanic plumes. Wiley, New York, p 574

    Google Scholar 

  • Stroncik NA, Klügel A, Hansteen TH (2009) The magmatic plumbing system beneath El Hierro (Canary Islands): constraints from phenocrysts and naturally quenched basaltic glasses in submarine rocks. Contrib Mineral Petrol 157:593–607. doi:10.1007/s00410-008-0354-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sumino H, Nagao K, Notsu K (2001) Highly sensitive and precise measurement of helium isotopes using a mass spectrometer with double collector system. J Mass Spectrom Soc Jpn 49:61–68

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suzuki YJ, Koyaguchi T, Ogawa M, Hachisu I (2005) A numerical study of turbulent mixing in eruption clouds using a three-dimensional fluid dynamics model. J Geophys Res 110:B08201

    Google Scholar 

  • Thomson RE, Gordon RL, Dymond J (1989) Acoustic Doppler current profiler observations of a mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal plume. J Geophys Res 94:4709–4720

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Woods AW, Bursik MI (1991) Particle fallout, thermal disequilibrium and volcanic plumes. Bull Volcanol 53:559–570

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was partially supported by the projects (i) MAKAVOL (MAC/3/C161) of the European Union Transnational Cooperation Programme MAC 2007-2013, (ii) ALERTA (MAC/2.3/C56) and ALERTA II (03/MAC/4.1/C6) of the European Union Transnational Cooperation Programme INTERREG III B Azores-Madeira-Canary Islands 2000-2006, (iii) EPHESTOS (CGL2011-29499-C02-01) and SUBVENT (CGL2012-39524-C02-02) of the Spanish National R+D+I Plan 2008-2011, and (iv) HELIO (ProID20100158) of the Canary Islands Agency for Research, Innovation and Information Society. We are also grateful to the Water Community of San Simón as well as to the Cabildo Insular de El Hierro and Cabildo Insular de Tenerife for their support. We thank the crews and technicians of the oceanographic vessels Hespérides and Sarmiento de Gamboa for their dedication during the surveys, as well as the crews of the Emergency and Rescue Group (GES) from Canary Islands Government. The authors wish to sincerely thank the Associate Editor and anonymous reviewers whose useful comments and constructive suggestions greatly improved the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pedro A. Hernández.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: T. Nishimura

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pérez, N.M., Somoza, L., Hernández, P.A. et al. Evidence from acoustic imaging for submarine volcanic activity in 2012 off the west coast of El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain). Bull Volcanol 76, 882 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-014-0882-y

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-014-0882-y

Keywords

  • Acoustic imaging
  • Submarine volcanic activity
  • Precursory signature
  • El Hierro
  • Canary Islands