Volcanic eruption at San Benedicto Island (close by Socorro)

Ok. The eruption wasn’t this week. Rather it was August 1st, 1952 on a beautiful sunny and calm day when the crew of the tuna clipper M/V Challenger noticed a vertical plume of steam on the tiny island of San Benedicto. The steam rapidly turned into a towering cloud of heavy smoke and ash with explosions hurtling bombs into the air. Daylight turned to darkness. The air became thick with pumice. I can only imagine what the poor guys on the Challenger were feeling. And actually, I wonder what our poor mantas were thinking!! San Benedicto had erupted and the fishermen fled to the west at full throttle not knowing if they were living their last minutes on this earth as hunks of pumice thudded onto their decks. They were lucky and managed to escape. San Benedicto continued to erupt for the next 10 months as a volcanic peak emerged from the sea with magma breaking through a notch on the southeastern side of the lava dome and flowing into the sea forming a spectacular semi-circular lava delta which just happens to be one of the best places in the world to interact with giant manta rays. et voila – the dive site “El Canyon”.

San benedicto island exploding
(San Benedicto – beginning of the explosive eruption of August 1, 1952 – Photo GVP / by Robert Petrie, 1952 ( U.S. Navy , courtesy of Sherman Neuschel , U.S. Geological Survey).)
Captain Mike

By Nautilus Staff

Updates, exciting information and other news from the staff at Nautilus Liveaboards.

2 replies on “Volcanic eruption at San Benedicto Island (close by Socorro)”

San Benedicto volcanism has progressed south along a narrow submarine ridge which extends over 20 miles north of the island. Crater Herrera, northeast of Barcena, is the remnant of a large pyroclastic volcano, the cone of which has been eroded by waves.

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