Science and Nature

Ash and Lava Flows Proceed to Wreak Havoc on La Palma in the Canary Islands

La Palma Lava Flows

Lava flows from Cumbre Vieja on La Palma in the Canary Islands on September 25, 2021. Credit: Decide Simmon, Planet, aged by permission.

The eruption of Cumbre Vieja on La Palma in the Canary Islands has kept volcanologists monitoring the volcano on their toes. Over the previous week, extra than one vents glean opened on the volcano and the eruption has oscillated between calmer lava flows and extra explosive lava fountains. Despite the truth that the eruption is restful going strong, authorities are beginning to let of us help into areas that accomplish not seem like in the direction of the continuing lava flows.

The predominant lava flows stretch as much as almost 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) to the west of the vent, with a extra intelligent northern high-tail alongside with the circulation and extra sluggish southern high-tail alongside with the circulation. The Planet image captured on September 25 (above) reveals the lava high-tail alongside with the circulation enviornment as it paved over neighborhoods near Cumbre Vieja. For the explanation that eruption began, it has lined not lower than 640 acres (2.6 square kilometers) and dumped over 1 billion cubic feet (31 million cubic meters) of lava. That’s roughly 300,000 tractor trailers value of molten rock.

Annotated version of the September 25, 2021 Planet image of the lava flows on La Palma. The dashed lines sign the lava flows I’ll perhaps well presumably well establish on the image and the direction the flows are transferring. Credit: Planet, aged by permission and Erik Klemetti (annotations).

The Lava Flows

The lava flows indicate many of the abnormal beneficial properties you’d place an relate to from these basaltic lavas — lava channels, levees on either facet of the high-tail alongside with the circulation, arcuic strain ridges down the guts of the high-tail alongside with the circulation and areas the build the lava spreads out as it hits flatter ground (lava deltas). Within the event that you just can this image with those from the 2018 Kilauea eruption, that you just can look how identical they are, though the La Palma lava appears to be extra rubbly a’a than the runnier, ropey pahoehoe that dominated at Kilauea.

Because it is with many lava flows, one home would be fully destroyed and buried whereas its neighbor is true magnificent. Some also will be surrounded by lava flows on “islands” of unaffected land known as kipukas. That you simply may perhaps presumably well presumably look a couple of in the Planet image. They would perhaps presumably glean been on areas a minute bit higher than the setting or true purchased lucky. In assorted areas, houses and roads glean been buried by as much as 40-160 feet (12-50 meters) of lava.

Extra Explosive Blasts

The extra explosive facet of this eruption has precipitated air lag disruptions for La Palma. The ash from lava fountains is being blown to the east of the island (look Landsat-8 image below), stranding airplane and leading of us to see boats to head away La Palma. The ash and sulfur dioxide emissions don’t seem like getting blasted excessive sufficient into the skies to seemingly region off issues exterior the Canary Islands (though the sulfur dioxide has made it to Europe) or glean any lasting impact on local climate.

The darkish ash plume from the La Palma eruption, seen by Landsat-8 on September 26, 2021. Credit: NASA/USGS.

The cones shaped by the eruption continue to collapse and salvage rebuilt, which is abnormal for this Hawaiian-trend eruption. These collapses can stop or launch lava flows or intensify a couple of of the explosivity of the eruption. On the other hand, they don’t seem like the form of relate that can lead to the tsunami that some of us are (wrongly) panicked about going down.

It’s miles restful unclear true how long this eruption will final, but INVOLCAN has reported that volcanic tremor, assuredly precipitated by magma transferring into the higher parts of the volcano, has dropped considerably on September 27. Whether or not this means the eruption may perhaps well presumably well wane stays to be seen.

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