Disasters & Accidents

La Palma volcano on track to become island’s longest recorded eruption

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Nov 29 (EFE).- Two 3.5 magnitude earthquakes were among 43 registered on Spain’s La Palma early Monday morning, where an ongoing volcanic eruption looks poised to become the island’s most prolonged in last 500 years.

Spain’s National Geographic Institute said the first 3.5 magnitude quake was felt in the municipality of Fuencaliente, located on the southern tip of La Palma, just before 4am, while a second was picked up in the same spot four hours later.

The seismic activity, in conjunction with a surge in the quantity of sulfur dioxide (SO2) the volcano is belching out, the appearance of new vents and an additional lava flow, indicate that the end of the eruption is not yet in sight, experts said on Sunday.

Francisco Prieto, spokesman for the Pevolca emergency committee, said it was possible that the volcano erupting on the Cumbre Vieja ridge could last longer than the 1585 Tajuya eruption, which was recorded at 84 days. The current volcanic eruption entered its 71st day Monday.

“Unfortunately, the forecast is that the eruption will not end in the short-term,” he said, adding that the committee was closely monitoring a new lava flow that is so far skirting the northern edge of the vast swathes of land covered in lava and volcanic ash.

Over the weekend, the volume of SO2 being emitted from the volcano daily rose to between 30,000 and 49,999 tons and although a change in wind direction was favorable for airport operations on the island, air quality in populated areas worsened.

The local government’s emergency health department warned that the amount of SO2 in the air around the town of Los Llanos surpassed the threshold of 500 units per cubic meter, with a peak of 724, on Sunday morning.

Officials urged residents of Los Llanos, El Paso and Tazacorte to avoid outdoor activities and wear FFP2-grade masks. EFE


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