Socorro Island

LocationTypeTreaty CodeStatus
Socorro IslandHydroacoustic StationHA06Certified

Page 1 HA06

Thumbnail profile: Socorro Island

The island is of volcanic origin.

The station is located on Isla Socorro—its Spanish name—which is a 132 km² volcanic island in the Revillagigedo Islands, off Mexico’s western coast. A shield volcano that last erupted in 1993, the island rises abruptly out of the sea to an altitude of 1,050 m (3,445 ft.). Its terrain is full of furrows, small craters and ravines, and covered in lava domes, lava flows and cinder cones.

The Mexican Navy supported site construction by making boats available for transport.

Socorro Island was discovered by Spanish explorer Hernando de Grijalva on Christmas Day 1533. Rediscovered in 1608, it was named Isla Socorro ("Island of Aid") by explorer Martín Yañez de Armida. Much later, in the early 20th century, Barton Warren Evermann, Director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, began promoting the scientific exploration of the island, which is located 440 km southwest of Baja California’s southernmost point and 700 km from the Mexican mainland. Nowadays, the waters around Socorro Island are a popular destination for divers, especially for its large manta rays.

The waters around Socorro Island are renowned for their large manta rays. Photo: David McMurdie.

In the 1960s Socorro Island —along with Nord in Greenland, Easter Island, Heard Island in the Indian Ocean and Mawson Station on Antarctica — was a station in the Earth-girdling satellite triangulation programme set up by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. This early space-based geodetic system was a forerunner of today's Global Positioning System (GPS).

Today there is a naval station on Socorro Island, which was established in 1957 and has a population of 250 staff and families. They live in a village on the west side of Bahia Vargas Lozano, a small cove with a rocky beach, about 800 metres east of Cabo Regla, the southernmost point of the island. The Mexican Navy supported the site construction and installations at HA06 by making boats available to transport personnel and equipment.