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(9k) Welcome to isabela Volcan Chico 
 
(4k) Volcane 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.
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.

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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