Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain, Sep 27 (EFE).- The Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain’s La Palma Island began spewing abundant quantities of lava once again on Monday evening after several hours of relative calm.
Not counting the large amount of lava currently being ejected, the amount of volcanic material emitted during the first seven days of this latest eruption that began on Sept. 19 – 46.3 million cubic meters – already exceeds the 43 million cubic meters spewed over 24 days in the previous eruption on La Palma in 1971.
On Sunday, lava swept rapidly through the town of Todoque, destroying a church and other buildings and edging closer to the ocean.
The latest figures from the scientific committee of the Canary Islands’ Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) indicate the lava is between 800 meters and 1,000 meters from the coast.
As a precautionary measure, the four residential areas closest to where the lava is expected to meet the sea remain under a confinement order due to the danger of toxic gases being emitted. That order affects around 300 people.
Before the resumption of Cumbre Vieja’s activity, the Canary Islands’ Volcanology Institute had cautioned that it was too soon to know if the eruptive phase had ceased.
Before reaching that conclusion, it said, experts would need to observe an absence of eruptive activity over “a sufficient number of days” and zero emissions of sulfur dioxide, which after water vapor and carbon dioxide is the third-most abundant gas expelled during an eruption.
Small earthquakes could continue occurring for “years after” the eruptive phase is over, the institute said.
A team of technicians and scientists, meanwhile, have been deployed to La Palma – the northwestern-most island of the Canaries archipelago, located off Africa’s northwestern coast – to monitor different indicators and detect any new developments as soon as possible.
For now, the air quality throughout the island remains good and the possibility of acid rain has been ruled out for the current 24-hour period.
According to the latest figures from the Copernicus Earth observation program, the lava, which in some sections is a thick as 50 meters (165 feet), has affected 513 homes and a total surface area of 237.5 hectares (586 acres).
The area covered by the volcano’s ashes has extended to 1,507 hectares, while 18.9 kilometers (12 miles) of roads have been destroyed by the lava flows.
The number of current evacuees numbers around 5,600 after some 200 people forced to vacate their residences last Friday due to intensifying eruptions returned home on Sunday. EFE