Geography and Geology of the Galapagos Islands

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The Galapagos archipelago is located about 1000 kilometers to the west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. It is formed by 13 main islands: Darwin, Wolf, Pinto, Marchena, Genovesa, Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Baltra, Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Floreana, as well as countless islands (that here are not mentioned). The islands cover a total area of 7,882 square kilometers.

The same as many oceanic islands as Hawaii, the Galapagos island are product of the tectonic motion of the layers under the surface. The feathers of the mantel are columns of hot rock, of about 100 kilometers of diameter that rise from the depths of the Earth. These mantels rise because of the high temperatures (up to 200 centigrade degrees). The rock rises in an average of 10 cm a year.

Consequently, the islands are in fact sumits of volcanic cones, and some of them continue active. In fact, Galapagos is one of the regions with more volcanic activity in the world, where they have registered 55 of the biggest eruptions in the past, the last ones in Marchena, in 1991 and in Fernandina in 1995.

Two types of volcanoes exist in the islands. In the West, in the islands of Isabela and Fernandina we find big volcanoes like plates for soup or deep boilers. In the East they are more common the smallest volcanoes with less marked slopes. The difference between these two types of volcanoes is the thickness of the litospheric layer. The volcanoes with the shape of a plate of soup are not very common, and the scientists are not sure of its origin.

The highest point in the Galapagos is located in the island Isabela. The volcano Wolf reaches the 1,707 meters high and 2,000 fathoms (1,852 meters) of depth. Many volcanoes have two and even three names, due to the vivid history of the islands. Most of the maps point out all them.


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