This was the explosion of underwater life in Lanzarote and El Hierro after the lava reached the sea

The volcano destroys and also creates life. They are the two faces of the natural catastrophe shown by the Volcanic eruptions that they had in suspense Lanzarote intermittently for six long years of the 18th century (1730-1736) with Timanfaya, whose path of lava rushed into the sea through small cliffs in the west of the municipality of Yaiza on September 11, 1730.

A decade ago Tagoro emerged in El Hierro, the underwater volcano born from the eruption that began in the Mar de las Calmas up to 89 meters above the surface, near La Restinga, in the south of Isla del Meridiano, on October 10, 2011 and ended on March 5, 2012 .

In both cases there was an explosion of life under the ocean after a while. Timanfaya and Tagoro are two samples of the surprising biodiversity that emanated from the underwater flows. Life has given its surprises in Lanzarote and El Hierro.

The creation of rocky reefs on the coastal bottoms of Timanfaya provided “a rich and varied” marine fauna, as described in the Timanfaya National Park Visit Guide. An example of this is that “120 species of marine invertebrates and 59 species of fish of the 217 classified in the coastal waters of the Canary Islands” have been inventoried, the guide details.

In this way, “the large groups of red crabs, the appreciated limpets and the small bourgeois that we can discover during a walk along the coast ”, describes the publication of the National Parks Network. Old women, octopuses, moray eels, cuttlefish, pejeverdes, salemas and abbots live under the salty waters of Timanfaya, although the visitors hardly appreciate that fauna.

From ‘restingolites’ to natural fertilizer

On October 15, 2011, some strange bombs and volcanic slags between 10 and 40 centimeters in diameter, black or brown on the outside and white on the inside, porous and rich in uranium, which were baptized as ‘restingolites’, in honor of the nearby town of La Restinga, whose inhabitants were evacuated on several occasions by the eruption.

‘Restingolitas’ in the Mar de las Calmas, in El Hierro.

It was not the only novelty that Tagoro brought. Years after the end of that eruption in El Hierro, the volcano continued to expel significant amounts of iron into the ocean that “they have been fertilizing those waters in a natural way and propitiated a whole explosion of life in what will probably be the first National Marine Park in Spain”, a report in 2017 from the agency included Efe based on the study carried out by four researchers from the IInstitute of Oceanography and Global Change of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (IOCAG), Carolina Santana González, Magdalena Santana Casiano and Melchor Gonzalez, and of the delegation in the Canary archipelago of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Eugenio Fraile, and published in 2017 in the magazine Marine Chemistry on the consequences of the Tagoro eruption for the marine biodiversity of El Hierro.

The magma erased the traces of underwater life in the Mar de las Calmas, one of the most appreciated diving areas in the world for the variety of its bottoms, but what came next was much better. The scientists found that “Life was returning to those seabed at full speed and, in some cases, even more vigorously than before ”. And not only that, because the diving clubs found that the sightings of cetaceans increased and that it was more and more frequent to observe species that were very elusive there.

The Tagoro explosion meant the creation of “optimal conditions for regeneration of the area” by raising dissolved iron levels well above normal and reducing the pH of the water. Iron acts as a bottom fertilizer, according to what this research collected, which also made reference to higher levels of chlorophyll at only 25 meters of depth, “indicative of the photosynthesis carried out by living beings located at the base of the ocean food chain: phytoplankton ”.

Eruption of the Tagoro Volcano in El Hierro.

However, the ULPGC researchers Markel Gomez Letona, Javier Arístegui and Maria Fernanda Montero, of the University Institute of Oceanography and Global Change (IOCAG), With Antonio González Ramos and Josep Coca, of the Robotics and Computational Oceanography Division of the University Institute of Intelligent Systems and Numerical Applications in Engineering (IUSIANI), published a research article in the international journal Scientific Reports, in which they showed that the eruption of the underwater Tagoro volcano did not produce any biological fertilization that accelerated the recovery of the marine ecosystem in the area of ​​the explosion.

According to these experts, the changes that occurred, both in the abundance of phytoplankton and chlorophyll in the waters south of El Hierro, took place also in the rest of the Archipelago, mainly due to the natural seasonal variability, and in part, also to the interannual variability caused by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

Despite the discrepancies between the two scientific studies, what fishermen and diving clubs have highlighted is the resurgence of underwater life after the devastation of Tagoro.

What will happen under the sea of ​​La Palma?

At another point in the same Canary Atlantic Ocean, in La Palma, the wash met the sea at Playa del Perdido (Tazacorte) around eleven o’clock last Tuesday, September 28, nine days after the new volcano of Cumbre Vieja erupted, in the west of the city. Beautiful island. Until this Thursday, the dimension of the low island that has been configured is 17.2 hectares, according to calculations by the Cabildo de La Palma, the equivalent of 34.4 football fields (each one has half a hectare in size, that is, 5,000 square meter).

The lava from the new volcano La Palma fell into the sea in an area where marine life is “quite poor” and where it will generate biological wealth within a lot of time, advanced last Wednesday to Efe the professor of Marine Biology of the University of La Laguna Jose Carlos Hernandez.

The biologist stressed that once the lava cools in the sea water, it will generate a new rocky reef, which can be very interesting to generate a new habitat for marine organisms, being able to create intertidal zones with fauna such as limpets, burgers and octopuses, and deeper into the water, a new soil will replace the sandy one that existed until now.


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