Disasters & Accidents

Lava flows on La Palma span 400 hectares after partial cone collapse

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Oct 4 (efe-epa).- Some 400 hectares have been affected by the lava being spewed from a volcanic eruption on La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands, according to the latest Homeland Security (DSN) update published Monday.

The lava flow from the Cumbre Vieja, which began erupting on 19 September, has also created a delta into the Atlantic ocean that spans ??almost 29.7 hectares, the DSN added.

The collapse of part of the main cone structure on Sunday night seems to have merged the two vents which has triggered an increase in the lava flow. The river of lava flowing westwards is up to a kilometer wide.

The ash clouds that are forming primarily affect the southern slope of La Palma and the DSN has said finer ash particles may reach El Hierro island.

The decline in air quality in areas near the lava stream has forced the evacuation of scientists and emergency personnel with locals being urged to collect their belongings from their homes.

The DSN said the air quality in non-evacuated areas near the volcano remains within normal levels.

On Sunday sulfur dioxide emissions reached 16,000 tons, according to the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan). However, it is likely the volume of gas was higher because measurements conducted using mini-DOAS (differential optical absorption spectroscopy) on roving vehicles have limited accuracy.

Monitoring sulfur dioxide emissions is critical because it is often “closely” related to the intensity of magma output from these types of volcanic systems, Involcan reported.

A downward trend of sulfur dioxide would be an “unequivocal” sign that the eruption is nearing its end, the organization added.

Access to electricity and telecommunications continues to operate normally, but the supply of drinking water and irrigation has been disrupted in the localities of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane.

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