Tourist Boat Spots Galapagos Wolf Volcano Eruption
Wolf volcano, which last erupted in 1982, is the largest volcano on the Ecuadorian archipelago made famous by Charles Darwin. A volcano in the Galapagos Islands, home to the world's only colony of pink iguanas, has erupted for the first time in more than 30 years.
Streams of bright orange lava could be seen spilling over the ground as a large column of smoke rose more than six miles into the air.
Scientists say the activity could continue for several days but, so far, neither residents nor the critically endangered Conolophus marthae - the Galapagos rosy iguana - are reported to be at risk.
The Galapagos National Park initially tweeted a warning about Isabela Island, where Wolf volcano erupted at dawn, but later said the iguanas' habitat on the volcano's northwest side appeared to be out of danger.
The iguanas, "which share the habitat with yellow iguanas and giant Chelonoidis becki tortoises, are situated on the northwest flank, which raises hopes that they will not be affected," it said in a statement.
The authorities were first alerted to the eruption of the 1,706m (5,600ft) volcano when it was spotted by a tourist boat passing the uninhabited area.
Park officials flew over the zone and took pictures of the eruption.
"The eruption generated a very large column of smoke that rose more than 10 kilometres (six miles) into the air, and later drifted toward the southwest part of the volcano," said Sandro Vaca of Ecuador's Geophysics Institute.
"However, there has been no effect on residents."
The lava is flowing down the volcano's southern face and it is likely to reach the sea where some marine life could be harmed, scientists said.
Unusual seismic activity was also reported at the Sierra volcano on the same Isabela Island in April.
Isabela Island is the largest in the Galapagos, the Ecuadorian UNESCO-status archipelago made famous by Charles Darwin's studies of its astonishing range of natural biodiversity, which was crucial in his development of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
The chain of 13 islands and 17 islets, which sits about 600 miles (1,000km) off the coast of Ecuador, is in one of the most volcanically active regions in the world.