Today’s Video of the Day from the European Space Agency features the Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. This region is one of the most famous places on the planet for viewing wildlife.
The Galápagos Islands are home to many native plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, including giant tortoises and sea lions.
When Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835, his wildlife observations inspired the theory of evolution by natural selection. In 1959, the Ecuadorian government made the entire archipelago a national park to protect its unique diversity.
The archipelago is made up of 13 major islands and several smaller islands and islets across 60,000 square kilometers of ocean. According to ESA, repeated volcanic eruptions and ongoing seismic activity have helped form the rugged mountain landscape of the islands. The most populated islands of Galapagos are San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz and Isabela.
The largest of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela, was formed from the joining of six shield volcanoes – Ecuador, Wolf, Darwin, Alcedo, Sierra Negra, and Cerro Azul. Volcanic activity persisted in the Galapagos for at least 20 million years, and possibly even longer. The archipelago is characterized by large contemporaneous volcanoes – some with plume magma sources, others from the asthenosphere.
Video Credit: ESA