Wolf Volcano off the coast of South America had last erupted in 2015. But on Friday, lava poured down the mountain’s sides and clouds of ash spilled out over the Pacific Ocean. Now Ecuador’s government is monitoring the volcano.
The Galapagos Islands, a chain of Pacific Ocean islands, are part of the country of Ecuador. Ocean volcanos formed these islands, which lie nearly 600 miles off the coast of mainland South America.
The Galapagos are famous for giant tortoises and tropical penguins—and volcanos. The 5,580-foot Wolf Volcano is one of numerous active volcanos in the chain.
A week ago, Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island began rumbling. Shortly before midnight local time on Wednesday, Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute scientists say a cloud of gas and ash from the mountain rose to 12,444 feet above sea level. Two days later, the tallest mountain in the Galapagos Islands was still erupting.
Images taken from afar and circulated by the Ecuador government showed glowing lava piercing the pre-dawn darkness.
Ecuador’s Emergency Operations Committee says the new eruption on Isabela Island, the largest in the Galapagos chain, didn’t pose a risk to people or to local native species. That’s because populated areas lie at the opposite side of the island.
But Ecuador’s Environment Ministry says eight people, including national park guards and scientists, were evacuated from the area. The scientists had been doing field work on pink iguanas living on the volcano’s slopes. The large rose-colored lizards live only on the volcano.
The Galapagos Government Council says the emergency committee will continue monitoring the volcano to see in which direction the lava flows—and whether it will harm the rare iguanas.
(An aerial view of the lava eruption of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Wilson Cabrera/National Galapagos Park communications office via AP)