The world is trembling: are we seeing more volcanic and seismic activity than usual?

Is the interior of the planet going through extreme activity?
Melbourne, September 22 earthquake
Etna erupting, September 22
Volcán de Fuego (Guatemala), September 24
Crete, September 26 earthquake
On La Palma, the eruption intensifies
Are these events related?
There is no direct relationship
Etna and La Palma on different plates
However...
Domino effect
A global tectonic movement
Connections made by the media
Do eruptions and earthquakes have to do with climate change?
Climate change may make it harder to endure them
1,500 active volcanoes
The number of eruptions is not extreme
Most in the Ring of Fire
Life under the ground is still the same
Nature is stronger
Is the interior of the planet going through extreme activity?

It started with the eruption of a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma on September 19. The volcano had been dormant for 50 years. Then, little by little, other similar phenomena happened in late September. What are these events, and are they related?

Melbourne, September 22 earthquake

The Australian city of Melbourne suffered an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale. It was something absolutely unusual in an area where historically there has been no seismic activity whatsoever. There was a lot of material damage but no casualties.

Etna erupting, September 22

Coinciding with this earthquake in Australia, Etna on the Italian island of Sicily began to spit fire. The volcano has been in discontinuous activity for months but now exhibited a particular force.

Volcán de Fuego (Guatemala), September 24

Guatemala's dreaded Volcán de Fuego, whose eruption in 2018 caused hundreds of deaths, scared the local population with a brief eruption on September 24. After a few hours, it was calm again.

Crete, September 26 earthquake

An earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale caused dozens of injuries and one death on the Greek island of Crete on September 26.

On La Palma, the eruption intensifies

Meanwhile on the island of La Palma, the Cumbre Viejo volcano continued to spit lava and ashes. Hundreds of people had to flee the region of the volcano.

 

Are these events related?

These are all seismic and vulcanological events taking place within the time span of a week. Are they related? What do the experts say?

There is no direct relationship

In principle, each volcano or area of the planet belongs to a specific area (in terms of seismic and volcanic activity) whose map would be under the earth's crust. There can only be a relationship between two points if they are in the same area.

 

Etna and La Palma on different plates

For example, according to volcanologists, Etna and Cumbre Vieja (the La Palma volcano, in the image) do not share an area and, therefore, their eruptions are not related.

However...

Some experts do say that the eruption of the La Palma volcano could activate the dormant volcano of the Teide, on another Canary Island, Tenerife. Still, there is no high probability that something like this will happen either.

Image: Marek Piwnicki / Unsplash

Domino effect

Volcanologists do not perceive a dotted line that connects an earthquake in Australia or Crete with eruptions in Latin America or an Atlantic island such as La Palma. If there were a domino effect like this, we would be facing a real problem...

Image: ActionVance / Unsplash

A global tectonic movement

Only a raree tectonic movement that brought all the plates under the earth's crust in contact could cause this domino effect with eruptions and serial earthquakes. For the moment, however, such a movement is only science fiction.

Image: Sander Crombach / Unsplash

Connections made by the media

In reality, there have surely been other periods in which volcanic or seismic activity has abounded, but the attention of the press never connected these dispersed phenomena and put them at the center of their coverage.

Image: Bank Phrom / Unsplash

Do eruptions and earthquakes have to do with climate change?

That's another common question: does the climate crisis affect what's under the earth's crust?
The answer is: Not quite. It is daring (and unscientific) to say that droughts or torrential rains cause more earthquakes or earthquakes.

Image: Guillaume de Germain / Unsplash

Climate change may make it harder to endure them

However, it is true that the effects of these earthquakes and earthquakes are aggravated by the deterioration of ecosystems. So climate change makes it harder for the planet to deal with their consequences.

1,500 active volcanoes

It is estimated that there are about 1,500 active volcanoes in the world. During the month of September there have been eruptions in 23 of them. Is it a lot or a little?

Image: Marc Szeglat / Unsplash

The number of eruptions is not extreme

It is not an extreme volcanic activity. While the annual number is usually very variable, rising and falling without a clear pattern, it can be said that today's activity is not much out of the ordinary.

Most in the Ring of Fire

Most of the volcanoes that present activity these days are in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes the coasts of America and Oceania. In the image, you see the Villarrica volcano in Chile.

Image: William Justen de Vasconcellos / Unsplash

Life under the ground is still the same

Despite our alarm about the shocking images of earthquakes and volcanoes, the internal life of the planet remains the same. Only the mechanism of chance causes seismic and volcanic phenomena to occur in series.

Image: Carlos Cantero / Unsplash

Nature is stronger

What all this activity does make clear is that nature is sometimes stronger than human beings. And it's good to be alert to that fact.

See the sensational photos of the Cumbre Vieja eruption on La Palma

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