Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sierra Negra y Volcan Chico

3/23/11- The class made a field trip to one of the 5 active volcanoes on the island of Isabela. The hike was a total of 10 miles around the caldera and to another smaller volcano and we hiked from around 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM including many snack/tree climbing/enjoy the view breaks. Volcan Sierra Negra has the largest caldera of any volcano on earth, measuring in at (if I remember correctly) 10 km in diameter. If you wanted to see a bigger caldera, you would have to go to Mars. From the place that the chiva dropped us off it was a 30 minute hike up to the edge of the caldera. This part of the hike was super steep, but once we reached the top it was all worth it when we went over the top of the hill and got our first glimpse at the largest caldera on earth....
Sierra Negra caldera- doesn't even fit in one frame!

We walked along the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano for a while which led us a little farther down the outer slope of the volcano. There were giant trees in one little area with benches underneath and we stopped for some much needed food and tree climbing. We continued on to Volcan Chico. The path brings you over several lava fields with really neat formations. Volcan Chico is located right next to Sierra Negra because it was a magma intrusion that split off from the main caldera during an eruption and created several smaller cones and lava flows. 

another day in the classroom- our professor Falk with Ryan and Colby
We are biologists, not geologists, so when we stumbled across this skeleton under a rock we were all a lot more fascinated than we should have been, but we had been looking at rocks all day. We aren't sure what this is a skeleton of because there are no wild mammals in the Galapagos besides rats and bats. Our closest guess was a feral cat. 

The view from Volcan Chico was amazing. You could see all the way down to the water and see the skinniest part of the island of Isabela and the water on either side. The next volcano north, Alcedo, was also visible along with Fernandina. I was so excited to finally get a glimpse of Fernandina because not many people get to see it. There are no towns on the western coast of Isabela or on Fernandina and boats rarely make their way over to that side of the island. That being said, the western coast is where the majority of the upwelling is located making it prone to lots of fish species and also the flightless cormorant.  
view down the slopes of Volcan Chico to the water


  1. The Sierra Negra pictures are stunning!

  2. Wow - great field trip! Thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom