Does La Palma volcano inactivity mean it is extinguished?

by Lorraine Williamson
volcano inactivity - https://twitter.com/efadi_LP/status/1471139057971433478/photo/1

SANTA CRUZ DE LA PALMA – For the first time since the eruption started on September 19, the volcano of La Palma has been without signs of activity since Tuesday. However, scientists say that the volcano inactivity must last at least 10 days before a definitive conclusion can be drawn. 

The end of the nightmare is near. The Cumbre Vieja volcano that began erupting on September 19 is showing signs of exhaustion on its 88th eruption day. This was confirmed on Wednesday by the scientists and technicians of the Volcanic Emergency Plan of the Canary Islands (Pevolca). They see “clear signs” that this is the beginning of the end. A definitive conclusion on this can only be drawn in ten days. Then La Palma would receive the best possible Christmas present there is for the residents. The end of a devastating natural phenomenon.  

Main cones accessed

On Wednesday, the Involcan team had access to the main cones for the first time. These were emitting lava and ash until Monday, but are currently inactive. The visit to the bowels of the volcano is not only a clear example that the population of La Palma can breathe easily again but also proof of the “powerful stop” that the Cumbre Vieja had. This is what Pevolca spokesperson María José Blanco said. He further pointed out that “the absence of observable activity confirms the volcano’s depletion”. Although “to conclude that the eruption has ended, these parameters must persist for another ten days”. 

As he also noted, “a revival in activity and material emissions cannot be ruled out” during this period. Something similar happened with the San Juan volcano in 1949. After five days of sleep, it sent out a pulse that kept La Palma in suspense before the volcano calmed down for decades. 

nederlandse orthopeed

According to the latest report from the plan’s scientific and technical committee, there is practically no seismicity left. And, furthermore, what remains has been reduced to “background noise.” Moreover, there is no more lava emission and the flows have all stopped. In addition, the fumarolic activity is “punctual and sporadic”. Ground deformation remains stable and sulfur dioxide emissions from the eruption plume have been “extremely low” since Tuesday, December 14. For the first time in 88 days, La Palma woke up in silence on Wednesday morning. “If all these parameters remain as low as they are now for ten days, then we can say that the eruption is over.” 

Christmas Eve 

During this period leading up to Christmas Eve, “gases will still be recorded and will decrease as the lava cools.” However, IGN‘s regional director said, “the end of the eruption will not be the end of the emergency.” 

Before residents can return to their homes near the stalled lava flows, there is another security period, during which measures are enforced. Experts do not yet know exactly how long it will take for the lava tongues that cover the west of La Palma to cool down. At the moment, the cameras are still registering areas with temperatures above 400 degrees Celsius. 

Extension support 

On Thursday, government president Pedro Sánchez announced new support for the island’s tourism, agriculture and livestock sectors. Citizens who have lost their homes can also count on financial support. The government extends the limit from €30,000 to €60,000 for housing support, allocates €17.7 million for companies on the island. And, furthermore, increases the amount to €30 million for farmers, ranchers, and the tourism sector, among others. 

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