Eruption of Cape Verde’s equivalent to Teide, the Pico de Fogo

Photo: Inst. Volcanológico de Canarias
Photo: Involcan

Update 12 February 2015: Since 8 February no sulphur dioxide emissions have been detected, which suggests that the eruption has come to an end, vulcanologists say. In the end, despite widespread damage within the caldera itself, the lava mercifully did not overflow the rim to reach more populous areas. The above photo shows the new cone formed by the eruption with its now silent crater.

Update 23 December 2014: It’s a month to the day since Fogo’s eruption started, and it continues, though more slowly over the last ten days than previously. In this last month lava has completely destroyed  the villages of Chã das Caldeiras and Portela, and almost totally ruined a third, Ilhéu de Losna. Although the lava flow has slowed its rate somewhat, giving hope that it might not overflow the caldera, it is still proceeding some 80m every 24 hours, and this week gas emissions have increased, with the “eruptive plume” now some 800m tall.

Update 8 December: The lava flow is now just under 3 km from the corona forestal, the 850 hectare national park reserve – like the Teide National Park – which is the most important forestry area in all the Cape Verde islands. Just as worrying, the route is the very one which could take the lava out of the caldera altogether, and therefore threaten the main inhabited areas on the island. This is like an eruption here heading towards the La Orotava forest and threatening to start going down to main towns in the north. Emergency services are on standby for whatever happens next, including the possible evacuation of main population areas.

Destruction of Cha das Caldeiras. Photo: Involcan
Destruction of Cha das Caldeiras. Photo: Involcan

Update 7 December: The lava flow has now destroyed all the dwellings in Cha das Caldeiras, to add to the destruction of the town of Portela in what has been an appalling week for Fogo. And still it continues to flow.

Update 6 December: In the last hour or it has been announced that Portela has been completely destroyed by the lava flow, which has reached a speed of 10m/h. The flow is now headed towards Bangueira, and a total evacuation order has been raised for personnel in Cha das Caldeiras.

Update 2 December: HERE is a video of the destruction of the town of Portela which was evacuated the other day. The video shows the lava overcoming a school, a hotel, and several houses. Inexorable and staggering nature.

Photo: Involcan
Photo: Involcan

Update 30 November: Over the last several hours the eruption has intensified and the civil protection authorities have now ordered a complete evacuation of the Portela area. The authorities, vulcanologists and journalists have now been moved to a safer distance, and the army is enforcing the removals. The above photo of scientists investigating the eruptive column has been sent by researchers in the area from Involcan (Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias).


Update 28 November: The eruption’s fifth day has seen seismic and volcanic activity increase again, with lava being emitted from four vents on the side of the volcano. The Portela area is now said to be in clear danger of being engulfed by lava which is only 100m away. Cova Tina is also threatened by another flow.

Update 27 November: After appearing to die down, the eruption today seems to be gathering strength again, with existing and now new flows of lava more viscous, which means more rapid diffusion. The strengthened activity now puts at risk the Portelas and Cova Tina areas. Air quality is meanwhile being monitored in the region generally.

Update 26 November: The third day of the eruption has seen the lava flow slow, and vulcanologists say that their instruments suggest that the eruption has been spectacular and mercifully short. They are expecting to see it come to a halt over today.

Update 25 November: Incredible scenes from Fogo over the last 24 hours in the above video, showing the side vent of the Pico de Fogo spewing lava, and the lava flows that are inexorably spreading, including into national park territory. The Cape Verde government is said to be “losing the fight”, but this is a battle impossible to “win”, and it seems that the government is doing the best it can by setting up a crisis cabinet to monitor progress, coordinate response, and distribute assistance.

A cause for concern at present is that the eruption is moving towards from the side vent up to the main crater, creating vents as it goes. Currently four are active, and THIS video gives a staggering idea of what’s going on in that immediate area of eruption. The eruption, in other words, is still building up.

Update 24 November: There’s a spectacular video from Fogo News HERE of the continuing eruption, with local experts saying that the next 24 hours will be decisive. Local civil protection measures have been strengthened and some evacuations from Cha das Caldeiras near the eruption zone have been ordered though there is said not to be any immediate danger for the public.

Original post 23 November: A major eruption started this morning on Fogo in the Cape Verde islands. The island is in the south of the archipelago which is itself south of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Senegal. The pico de Fogo is often compared to Mt Teide, being the highest volcano in the Cape Verde islands. The eruption has been confirmed by the Canarian Vulcanological Institute (Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias: IVC), which promises more information shortly. There is a private video of the eruption which has been promulgated by the IVC but I can’t see how to upload it to this blog: it is HERE on my Facebook media page, though.


  1. Author

    There are already Canarians down there, I’m not sure of the extent of it all, but certainly vulcanology specialists are there. The Cape Verdean authorities have the aid situation under control I understand – it is one of the most westernised and modernised African countries, and to put it into context, it is as though Tenerife from Adeje to Puerto de la Cruz had been affected – there is still at least half the island unaffected, and these are mountain settlements, so the main infrastructure there is still intact. It’s appalling, but not devastating for the island as a whole.

  2. do you know if the Canarian government and or people are organising some aid for these families? And maybe Binter can help fly supplies down, we can all do our bit can’t we?

  3. (Reuters) – Molten lava from a volcano in the Cape Verde archipelago slid towards the town of Cha das Caldeiras on Thursday, threatening to destroy it and a nearby village four days after an initial eruption.

    Television images showed a huge lake of steaming black lava just meters away from houses in the village of Portela. The village is close to Cha das Caldeiras, whose 1,200-strong population has been evacuated to emergency shelters.

    The eruption on the island of Fogo — whose name means fire — is the first since 1995 and the largest since 1951.

    “In the last few hours, there was an increase in volcanic activity and the lava is flowing towards Portela and this community may be completely engulfed by lava,” Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves said on Thursday during a visit to Fogo.

    “The potential is for the total destruction of Cha das Caldeiras, one of the most fertile regions of Cape Verde,” he added, calling on international aid for the country.

    Experts from Portugal and the Canary Islands have already arrived to evaluate the seismic activity.

    The arid, former Portuguese colony is located about 600 km (400 miles) off the coast of Senegal. Fogo’s volcanic peak, surrounded by vineyards, is a favorite hiking destination.

    (Reporting by Julio Rodrigues; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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