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Risk of La Palma volcano potentially collapsing spurs further precautionary evacuations

Risk of La Palma volcano potentially collapsing spurs further precautionary evacuations

The evacuations of 160 people from three neighbourhoods in La Palma this Friday was decided due to the risk of a partial or total collapse of the volcanic cone. According to the committee spokesperson for the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) and director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canary Islands, María José Blanco, this would generate high-speed flows that could expand laterally, reaching areas that were not previously thgouht to be in danger. Faced with this potential situation, the Pevolca scientific committee decided to evacuate the areas that were estimated could be affected: Tacande de Arriba, Tacande de Abajo and Tajuya.

Most have gone to stay in the homes of family and friends, at least twelve have been transferred to a hotel in Fuencaliente and evacuations of ten people with functional diversity to the El Fuerte barracks (Breña Baja).

At around 1:00 p.m. on Friday, an increase in seismic signals was registered at levels that had not been reached even on the night of September 21-22, when the cone ruptured, main event leading to the Cumbre Vieja eruption. As more violent processes emerged than had been detected in recent days, it was initially decided to confine populations in areas near the volcano. “It was a solution consisting of being inside the house, with the windows closed and the doors closed and protected against possible breakage of the glass,” clarified Blanco.

But when this decision was made, it was found that two new mouths had appeared on the skirt of the volcano both emitting lava “of great speed and fluidity,” said Blanco. Given the possibility that they could be the start of an opening of a fracture that would join the two emission centres and destabilise part of the main cone, it was quickly decided that evacuations were the best course of action.

The director of the IGN in the Canary Islands illustrated the volcano’s two emission systems, so far, which are separated from each other by a small distance, and which are emitting a very similar, very fluid kind of lava, on top of the previously emitted layers. These emission centres release pressure as long as they do not produce fissures that destabilise the system, which can emit shockwaves like those produced this Friday.

“The dangers that the population would face if the volcanic cone were to collapse would be lava flows of high temperature and and high gas content, not very viscous, that can jump over topographic obstacles”; the ballistic fragments would also have a greater range and there would be dense ash fall. But of all these scenarios, the worst would be the collapse of the volcanic cone.

Technical director of Pevolca, Miguel Ángel Moncuerde, said that the confinement order was initially considered adequate because an increase in the intensity of the volcano had been detected, with an increase in the projection of pyroclasts of larger than usual size that can cause damage. “It is an interesting emergency and civil protection solution for cases like this,” he added. But just when the order had been issued for Tacande de Arriba, Tacande de Abajo and Tajuya, there was a huge increase in the intensity of the volcano ” and “the most logical thing” was evacuations after all.

Approximately 160 more people have had to leave their homes, while teams continue to monitor the movement of the volcano, in the interest of continued citizen safety. Within the next 24 hours the scientists expect to be able to have a clear review to know if this activity peak, reached around 3:20 pm has been reached again during the night, while making sure that local residents will not have to suffer the consequences of sudden increases in intensity of the volcano, Moncuerde told reporters.

Blanco also remarked that the eruption is a dynamic phenomenon and adaptation is necessary, with the safety of people as the primary objective. Therefore, it is recommended that residents keep themselves informed about Pevolca updates.


La Palma Volcanoes History

A wonderful illustration that will now need some updating. Recent #volcanic eruptions on #LaPalma (until 19 September 2021)  Photo- Sergio Socorro, image- J.C. Carracedo et al.

Volcano Eruption At Night

#LaPalma Volcano LIVE feedTen days of eruptions, thousands evacuated, air traffic at a stand still, hundreds of homes destroyed and immense gestures of love and solidarity from across The Canary Islands and the world. This is a public broadcast feed direct and live from the Canary Island of La Palma. The magma has finally managed to find its way to the ocean, where an exclusion zone has been set up to protect the population from toxic gases and various other consequences. The world watches in impotent awe as the earth reminds us all that it is really she who makes the world turn as she always has, for billions and billions of years. Did You Know: The Timanfaya volcano of 1730 on Lanzarote continued to erupt for fully six years, completely changing the landscape, the people, society, demographics and the economy of the island, as it turned out, for the better. There is no way to know how long this eruption is likely to go on for, but the whole of the Canary Islands are very proud of our neighbours on La Palma for having reacted so well and so quickly from the very beginning of this event to ensure no loss of life. #LaPalma #LaPalmaWeLoveYouPosted by TheCanary.TV on Tuesday, September 28, 2021


#LaPalma Volcano Eruption LIVE-1LIVE & direct from the canary island of La Palma, on the sixth day of the ongoing Cumbre Vieja eruptionPosted by TheCanary.TV on Friday, September 24, 2021

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2 Comments

  1. Robert Buzinski

    I worry that a collapse of a portion of the island into the sea might occur causing a huge title wave across the Atlantic Ocean. Will there be a alert on the internet if this occurs? If so, how will it be disseminated?
    Can we sign up for any warning?

    • Timon .:.

      There is no official alert service in place, to our knowledge, simply due to there being so small a likelihood of this scenario actually occurring that none of the scientific community, nor the expert volcanologists, have deemed such a system worthwhile.

      Whilst the theory first posited by Steven N. Ward and Simon Day in a 2001 has a lot of merit, most who are familiar with the subsequent analyses have distanced themselves from the idea of any imminent danger, even while Cumbre Vieja has been erupting. Sensationalism mixed with social media have spread unwarranted concern, so far as those in the know are concerned.

      We will of course be keeping an eye on the situation, and we are not trying to debunk the science, that is not our job, we simply report from the best sources we can find, but to answer your question, no, there is no current warning system.

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