Disasters & Accidents

Spain’s La Palma volcano still emitting gases 3 weeks after going quiet

By Luis G. Morera

Los Llanos de Aridane, Spain, Jan 5 (EFE).- Three weeks after the eruption of a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma was officially declared over, the volcano is still under surveillance by the Civil Guard’s Reserve and Security Group (GRS), which continues to measure the extent of the volcano’s harmful gas emissions on daily basis.

Equipped with protective gear including gas masks, breathing apparatuses and special devices to measure toxic and explosive gas levels, GRS agents have been constantly active at the La Bombilla fishing district in the municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane.

Not only gases such as sulfur dioxide and methane have been detected in the area, but also other types of concern due to their colorless and odorless nature, like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Brig. Esteban from the GRS8 unit tells Efe that the reasons for these emissions are not yet clear.

“Geologists are studying it and according to what they tell us, it can be influenced by the tides, which push gases from the subsoil to the surface, or by the existence of volcanic tubes that interconnect and expel gases through this area,” he explains.

Measurements are done twice every day, in the morning and the afternoon, whether on the streets of La Bombilla or the windows of the houses, especially those closest to the volcano’s slope where the detection apparatuses almost always beep due to a high concentration of gases.

Civil Guard troops still do not know for how long they will continue to measure the levels of harmful gases on the islan and say will stay as long as it is necessary.

“I don’t want to leave until the mission is over,” one of the agents says, considering this to be “one of the most rewarding parts” of his job.

The Tenerife-based GRS8 unit is considered an elite group that is called into action to guarantee public order when situations are deemed urgent.

Several members of this group were called up on the island of El Hierro during the 2011-2012 eruption of the Tagoro submarine volcano. EFE


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