On Sunday, a volcano erupted on one of the Canary Islands – La Palma. A few hours before the eruption, 130 intense tremors were recorded.
The Canary Islands’ La Palma authorities reported on Sunday that a huge column of smoke rose into the air after the volcanic eruption at 5:00 p.m. 15.15 local time (16.15 in Poland) in the Cumbre Vieja National Park in the south of the island. Hours before the eruption, seismic activity intensified around the volcanic crater ridge of Cumbre Vieja, where 130 intense quakes were recorded.
Cumbre Vieja is a volcanic ridge with many craters. For over a week there have been so-called seismic swarms – numerous small tremors. Last Friday, it was estimated that the pressure of the subsurface magma in the area had raised this part of the island by 15 centimeters. Experts pointed out that the epicenters are getting closer and closer to the surface.
La Palma. Evacuation of the population
The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) reported shortly before the volcanic eruption that the island experienced a magnitude 4.2 quake, the largest in more than a week when seismic activity began in the region. Volcanologist Stavros Meletlidis said the eruption opened five fissures in the hillside.
A few hours after the eruption, the lava flowed down the slopes like a river. “Under no circumstances go near the lava flow,” warned local authorities. “If there is volcanic ash, stay in your homes,” it added.
Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for four villages, including El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane. It is estimated that over a thousand people from several municipalities may be evacuated.
On Sunday, forest trails and tourist routes were closed, and cultural events were canceled. Roads are inspected and many of them are partially closed to traffic.
La Palma and seismic activity
In La Palma, a state of high alert was announced on Friday after more than 22,000 quakes were recorded in Cumbre Vieja, a chain of volcanoes in a week. The last major eruption in this area – one of the most active volcanic regions in the Canary Islands – occurred in 1971. Then one person died – trying to photograph the lava stream. However, there was no significant damage.
According to the Spanish National Geographical Institute (ING), the earliest recorded eruption on La Palma was in 1430.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Miguel Calero