The north face of the cone of the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, in La Palma, has suffered a series of landslides during the early morning and late on Saturday that have caused the lava that contained the crater to spill into various directions and has accelerated its speed, as confirmed by sources from the Institute of Volcanology of the Canary Islands (Involcan) and the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME). This new wash “follows its own path within the exclusion center”, in the words of the volcanologist and spokesperson for the scientific committee of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca), María José Blanco.
The rupture of this wall has generated three flows, as explained by the spokesman for the technical committee, Miguel Ángel Morcuende. Of particular concern is one of them, which has penetrated the industrial zone of El Callejón de la Gata (Los Llanos de Aridane), which was already affected between the 30 of September and last October 1. “The northern streams are moving very fast,” IGME sources have confirmed.
As explained by IGME sources, this collapse is dismantling the cone of the lava source, has overflowed and mobilized errant blocks tens of cubic meters in size. “This could reactivate the north flows”, explain the sources, so a reconnaissance drone flight will be carried out. “We do not stop watching.”
In his speech, Morcuende wanted to launch in any case a call for calm to the population. In that area, he explained there is a large hollow, and in the next few hours that laundry will try to fill it, which may take 24 or 36 hours at current rate. “If later the wash continues to force its exit, we would study mathematically what would be the final exit towards the sea” and if it were necessary to evacuate new areas. To do this, says the spokesman, there is “plenty of time.” And he concluded: “I want to call for the peace of the neighbors, and ask them to always look at official sources.”
Eyewitnesses from the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute, for their part, have assured during the morning of this Saturday on his Twitter account that the new flows are “generating tremendous destruction” as they progress through various areas of Los Llanos.
Both María José Blanco and the rest of the volcanologists transferred to the island usually insist in their appearances before the media that the constant changes in the morphology of the cone fall within the expected, due to the explosiveness characteristic of strombolian eruptions. La Palma’s, however, is moderate (one two on a scale of eight).
Seismicity has increased slightly in the last few hours. This, however, has occurred “at great depths”, about 20 kilometers. This circumstance, together with the stability of the ground deformations, lead Pevolca to rule out in the short term the appearance of another emitting center far from the crater.
Scope of the eruption
The magma emitted by the eruption already affects an area of 492, 75 hectares, 20, 9 more than those registered this Friday. Of the more than 6. 000 evicted by the advance of magma, only 225 are housed in a hotel establishment in the municipality of Fuencaliente. The outlook on the island is already bleak, with 1. 200 buildings destroyed, two schools missing and many roads blocked.
The other tongue of lava , which broke off near the sea on Thursday, is heading towards the beach of El Charcón and has accelerated the disappearance of banana plantations in one of the most fertile areas of the island. This wash is filling in gaps that the previous ones left empty, in addition to growing in height and has not yet managed to reach the sea. “However, it is gaining in mass”, which indicates that in a few hours it could recover its way, feeding the surface gained to the sea.
In this sense, the Pevolca has played down the importance of the events that may happen now that the end of the continental shelf has been reached in front. “At that moment, there will be a rupture, and then, immediately, we would have small explosions when water vapor is released” and waves of about five meters and with a radius of between 100 and 150 meters. “The intensity of the wave is inversely proportional to the distance,” added Morcuende, who reiterated that, in no case, says the Pevolca, will they endanger the population.
There have also been good news, at least in the short term. Air quality has gone from fair to moderately good , according to Pevolca. This improvement has been possible thanks to the rise in the thermal inversion, which facilitates the vertical dispersion of polluting gases and ash, and the fact that the winds have been oriented towards the south, in a way that has allowed it to be the island’s airport is operational.