End of La Palma volcanic eruption in sight after activity subsides?

by Lorraine Williamson
could this be the end of the eruption - https://twitter.com/efadi_LP/status/1470667287594217473/photo/1

LA PALMA – The eruption activity of La Palma’s volcano weakened to ‘practically disappeared’ on Tuesday and is currently in a ‘stalemate’. Only ‘sparse and weak’ activity is visible and the cone is now emitting no lava. Nevertheless, scientists remain cautious about the end of the eruption. 

This was reported by the technical director of the Pevolca Scientific Committee, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, at a press conference. He indicated this was preceded by a major explosive phase that occurred between 5.45 pm and 7.00 pm on Monday. This spewed out ash and lava bombs, mainly towards the north. 

Clearly weakened activity 

Miguel Ángel Morcuende pointed out that according to the members of the Scientific Committee, the activity of the volcano is currently ‘clearly weakened’, as there are ‘practically no tremors’ and only very low seismicity, both at medium depth and at depths of more than 20 km. There are also no signs of deformation due to the lack of pressure. 

As for lava flows, Morcuende pointed out that lava flow continues from the western base of the cone, mainly through volcanic tubes, although with a ‘much reduced’ and ‘very weakened’ flow compared to Monday. Meanwhile, in the Las Hoyas area, lava delta is flowing over previous lava flows but without reaching the sea. 

Sulphur dioxide remains high  

Morcuende stressed that only the registration of sulphur dioxide (SO2) is enormous, -tons per day-, especially in the volcanic plume. However, the measurements have been showing a downward trend since 23 September. On Monday, the levels of sulphur dioxide in the air were exceeded in El Paso, Los Llanos and Tazacorte. This happened between 7.00 am and 1.00 pm. Therefore, the population had to stay indoors. In the afternoon, all measured values in the stations on the island fell again and on Tuesday the values were below the threshold values again. 

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Cautious attitude 

Despite all these observable signs of the volcano’s decline in activity, Pevolca’s technical director explicitly stated that ‘we still have to wait and see’ to be able to say that the eruption has come to an end, because ‘the impression can be one thing and the reality can be something else’. He added that the Scientific Committee’s attitude has been ‘clearly one of caution, calm and waiting’. 

Miguel Ángel Morcuende pointed out that last Monday’s eruption showed a situation that was ‘similar’ to Tuesday’s. However, on Monday, there was a large amount of rainfall. On Monday, however, there was a large lava flow that caused concern, especially because of its width, which could be as much as 200 metres’. He also warned that although seismicity was very low, both at medium depths, between 10 and 15 km, and at depths greater than 20 km, an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 (mbLg) was recorded at a depth of 10 km around 10.15 am on Tuesday. 

PM10 particles 

An increase in the concentrations of PM10 particles was observed at all measuring stations. A peak of greater intensity was recorded early Monday morning and late evening in Los Llanos. In general, the values were good or fairly good in most measuring stations on the island, although there was an increase in Los Llanos. There, the air quality was even unhealthy. 

Aviation and forced hotel stays 

The location of the volcanic plume was slightly oriented to the east-south-east and in the higher layers to the east. This meant an unfavourable scenario for aviation activities at La Palma airport. 

The number of people who had to stay in hotels was 551, four more than on Monday. Of these, with the help of the Red Cross and municipal services, 395 are staying in Fuencaliente, 69 in Los Llanos de Aridane and the remaining 87 in Breña Baja. There are also 43 people in need of care in La Palma’s social and health centres. 

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