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- galapagos - isabela - volcan chico -tourism - travel - ecuador - galapagos
- via ecuador - ecotourism - flora - fauna - galapagos - isabela - volcan
chico -tourism - travel - ecuador - galapagos - via ecuador - ecotourism
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Similar activity in many parts of the world has been responsible
for creating valuable mineral deposits, and the sulfur accumulations on
the western side of Sierra Negra have been mined for short periods of time,
but in this often forbidding terrain, without success.
||In November 1979, a mile-and-a-half-long
fissure opened on the northeastern rim of Isabela's Volcano Sierra Negra.
Lava began to pour out from several vents, forming the area now known as
Volcano Chico, or "little volcano," and snaked down toward the sea at Elizabeth
Bay. Today, clouds of volcanic gases and steam billowing from the eruption
site are enduring evidence of this youthful geological outburst. As a result
of the hydrothermal activity, large quantities of minerals are dissolved
by the steam and carried to surface where they are splattered.
The 1979 eruption was only the most recent in a series
of volcanic explosions that have occurred in the Sierra Negra area. The
last prior eruption took place in April 19O3 and continued for a month,
smothering the volcano's eastern flanks. Sierra Negra is considered the
oldest of Isabela's six volcanos, as its caldera, or crater, is wide and
relatively shallow. Caldera formation, the result of the collapse of the
central part of a volcano into the magma chamber that fed the surface eruptions,
can occur over and over again, gradually widening the crater and reducing
the height of the volcano. The caldera floor is frequently covered by subsequent
lava flows, and eruptions can continue to break out along weak zones, such
as at Volcano Chico.
A compelling sight, the raw geology of Volcano Chico
is reached by a combination of road and hiking trail from the small village
of Puerto Villamil on the southern coast of Isabela. Once at the
rim of the Sierra Negra caldera, the road (built in part in 1985 to.aid
in fighting a fire that devastated over 80 square miles of the volcano's
southern slopes) gives way to a path, increasingly marked with volcano
debris. Fine, glassy slivers of black lava, frozen into strands from molten
material flung high into the air before cooling and falling back to earth,
become eerily beautiful signs that one is approaching a rare encounter
with primitive forces.
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