Day 1 |
Oct 05, 2013

Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay

By Desirée Cruz, Naturalist

Weather: Sunny with scattered clouds
Air Temperature: 21ºC

I woke up thinking it’s amazing how quickly a week can go by. I cannot believe our first trip is over! We were all so excited, there were so many things to do, and suddenly I found myself at Baltra Airport again meeting a new group of guests.

The Galapagos Islands are volcanic. Huge underwater volcanoes break the ocean surface, exposing lava flows and different kinds of volcanic cones. It is on this terrain that life has to take hold, so it is a very educational, building-up experience to start a voyage learning about the geology of the Islands. Sullivan Bay is the best place for this!

Sullivan Bay is located at the southeastern coast of James or Santiago Island, the fourth largest island in Galapagos. Sullivan Bay witnesses a recent volcanic history. The largest lava flow in Galapagos is also the result of the last eruption on James, dating back to 1897.
Since I am not a geologist by training, I always introduce the subject explaining that there are two kinds of eruptions: explosive and effusive. Galapagos is a hot spot (as Yellowstone, Hawaii, Iceland, and Azores) and hot spots have impressive effusive eruptions. Lava literally oozes out of vents, forming ripples as it flows down. Effusive eruptions may produce two kinds of lavas (both named after Polynesian words): the ropey or “Pahoehoe” lava, and the rough “Aa” lava. Hawaii and Galapagos are the two places in the world where we find most of the Pahoehoe lava flows. As I guided my group along the trail, we all admired the beautiful formations of shining black lava.
By the end of the afternoon, we took the tender back to the ship. The sun was setting and the sky had the most remarkable shades of orange. I sat down at the stern of the ship watching the day turned into a starry night.