Friday 27 December 2013

Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake off the coast of El Hierro.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake at a depth of 22.8 km roughly 31 km to the northwest of the island of El Hierro in the Canaries, slightly after 5.45 pm local time (which is GMT) on Friday 27 December 2013. There are no reports of any damage or injuries relating to this quake, however it was felt quite strongly on El Hierro, and triggered a number of small landslides, resulting in the temporary closure of several roads as a precautionary measure. The quake was also felt on the islands of Las Palmas and La Gomera. 

Dust from a rockfall on El Hierro triggered by the 27 December 2013 Earthquake. Julio del Castillo Vivero/Actualidad Volcánica de Canarias/Earthquake Report.

The Canary Islands are a group of volcanic islands fueled by a mantle plume rising through the African Plate, on which they are situated. The plume is rising from deep within the Earth, and is independent of the movement of the tectonic plates at the Earth's surface. As the plate moves relative to the hotspot new volcanic islands form on its surface, each over the hotspot when it forms, with the oldest islands of the chain in the east (the African Plate is being pushed east by the expansion of the Atlantic Ocean, but the hotspot is relatively motionless). Earthquake activity to the south of El Hierro began in July 2011, since when there has been considerably activity including a number of volcanic eruptions. In December 2011 it was confirmed that a new volcanic fissure had opened up beneath the sea to the south of El Hierro, and a new volcanic island is apparently in the process of being born.

The approximate location of the 27 December 2013 El Hierro Earthquake. Google Maps.

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