The Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific • Earth.com

The Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific

12-24-2021

The Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific 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 older names remained in use in English-language publications, including Herman Melville’s The Encantadas of 1854.  Therefore Galapagos owns one of the provinces of Ecuador, made up of three cantons that consist  the names of its most populated islands, which are San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz and Isabela.

The largest of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela, was formed when multiple Volcanism has been continuous on the Galápagos Islands for at least 20 million years, and possibly  even longer. The mantle plume beneath the east side of volcanoes merged into one single land mass. The Archipelago is characterized by large contemporaneous volcanoes, some with plume magma sources, others from the asthenosphere. The Galápagos Archipelago is characterized by numerous contemporaneous volcanoes, some with plume magma sources, others from the asthenosphere, possibly due to the young and thin oceanic crust. The GSC caused structural weaknesses in this thin lithosphere leading to eruptions forming the Galápagos Platform.

Video Credit: ESA

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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