EXCITING NEW DISCOVERY ON ISABELA ISLAND: A CRYSTALLIZED LAVA LAGOON AND TREE MOLDS!
Geologists in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are absolutely thrilled after new discoveries of unique geologic features on Isabela Island. A crystalized lava lagoon has been located near Volcán Chico (Sierra Negra Volcano) where in an area of about 30 meters, the liquid stage of lava cooled off rather quickly and left petrified of what was once lava in motion.
According to the geologist team in charge of documenting this finding, they believe it is a one-of-a-kind site. The team leader is Geologist Theofilos Toulkeridis, a professor at the Superior Polytechnic School in Ecuador (Escuela Superior Politécnica del Ecuador). Professor Toulkeridis mentions that this discovery will be shared in full detail with the scientific community in the weeks to come. This finding is also part of another colossal geologic feature witnessed at this location: a petrified forest of tree molds of about 30 individual trees. This petrified forest provides evidence of an already existing forest that was surrounded by the incoming molten rock whose shocking high temperature turned all of the biomass into charcoal in seconds. As a result of such a violent encounter, the trees caught fire almost immediately while some of the still-moving lava cooled off around the shape of the former tree. Thus, the name of “tree mold”. These features are key to botanists and zoologists in order to understand what species inhabited an area before an eruption took place and they reveal hidden secrets of the islands´ ecosystems in a distant past. Similar features have been located on Genovesa Island, at the Cerro Azul Volcano on Isabela Island, and perhaps the most famous, Sullivan Bay on James Island.
Professor Toulkeridis shows his excitement as these gaunt trees are close to a new trail that will soon be open to the public for people to come and explore. He says, “This is truly amazing – you just don’t find this on a daily basis. Maybe once every 20 years if you´re lucky”. Park wardens and naturalist guides were part of a training program when these features were discovered. He also said that, “a crystalized fountain of lava and a ghost forest is a true rare combination to find; this is really impressive, and even if no one can walk on top of the solidified lava lagoon, you can view it from as close as 5 m (15 ft).”
The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago located about 1,000 km (620 mi) west of the South American mainland. Its origin is entirely volcanic and it belongs to a group of volcanoes known as shield volcanoes. The geologic age of the archipelago ranges from 4-5 million years to a mere few years, when the last volcanic activity took place.
This is a scientific finding in progress. More details will be released in the days ahead.