Fernandina Island

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Fernandina isabela.jpg
Fernandina Island (center) and Isabella Island
Elevation 1,476 m (4,843 ft)
Fernandina is located in Galápagos Islands
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Coordinates 0°22′S 91°33′W / 0.37°S 91.55°W / -0.37; -91.55Coordinates: 0°22′S 91°33′W / 0.37°S 91.55°W / -0.37; -91.55
Type Shield volcano
Last eruption

April 2009

is a caldera

Fernandina Island (formerly known in English as Narborough Island, after John Narborough) is the third largest, and youngest, island of the Galápagos Islands. Like the others, the island was formed by the Galápagos hotspot. The island is an active shield volcano that has been erupting since April 11, 2009.[1] It is the westernmost of the islands in the archipelago, and was named in honor of King Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored the voyage of Christopher Columbus.


Fernandina has an area of 642 km2 (247.9 miles2) and a height of 1,476 meters (4,842 feet), with a summit caldera about 6.5 km (4.0 mi) wide. The caldera underwent a collapse in 1968, when parts of the caldera floor dropped 350 meters.[2] A small lake has intermittently occupied the northern caldera floor, most recently in 1988. Two types of lava flow can be observed, ʻaʻā and pāhoehoe.


Fernandina Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including crabs and oystercatchers.

Due to its recent volcanic activity, the island does not present much plant life and has a mostly rocky surface. Visitors to Fernandina Island will be taken to see only the outskirts of the crater for safety reasons. Punta Espinoza is a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of marine iguanas gather in large groups on black lava rocks. The famous flightless cormorant inhabits this island, as well as Galapagos penguins, pelicans, Galapagos land iguanas, rice rats, and sea lions. Mangrove forests also abound on the island. Fernandina is considered the most pristine of the Galápagos Islands and has had no species of mammals introduced, which sets it apart from most of the other islands in the archipelago.[3]

February 1825 eruption[edit]

On 14 February 1825, while anchored in Banks Bay, Captain Benjamin Morrell recorded one of the largest observed eruptions in Galapagos history at Fernandina Volcano. His ship escaped to safety and his account of the event was preserved.

April 2009 eruption[edit]

The southern flank of the volcano La Cumbre had a fissure eruption that generated flows, which subsided within hours. Isla Fernandina supports wildlife that could be threatened by the April 2009 burst of volcanic activity, according to rangers at Galapagos National Park. However, no human settlements were endangered, as the island has no human residents. Park rangers and a passing tourist boat initially observed the volcano at 10:00 p.m. local time on April 10, 2009. A sparse human population in the western reaches of the Galapagos Islands means that volcanic activity is not always observed or reported as soon as it starts. The seismic station at Puerto Ayora, on the nearby island of Santa Cruz, recorded no earthquakes associated with this eruption.

La Cumbre volcano, viewed from the ISS, July 2002
Fernandina Island during the April 2009 eruption as seen from space. Isla Isabela can also be seen to the east (right).

See also[edit]


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