SANTA CRUZ DE LA PALMA – The volcanic eruption on La Palma has been continuing for more than 10 weeks. And, consequently, the inhabitants of the island have been living with volcanic ash, destroyed houses, lava flows, confinements, and even poisonous gases for more than 70 days. Furthermore, the end does not seem to be near yet.
“Unfortunately, the eruption is not predicted to end anytime soon,” Pevolca engineer Francisco Prieto said on Sunday. Indicators used by the experts to measure volcanic activity have risen again. Therefore, they do not predict that the eruption will end soon.
High sulphur dioxide emissions and air quality deterioration
Sulphur dioxide emissions have multiplied to “very high” values of between 30,000 and 49,999 tons per day, as stated Sunday by María José Blanco, director of the National Geographical Institute (IGN). Blanco pointed out that we’ll have to wait a few more days to know if it’s just a “punctual” rise. Or, perhaps a change in the downtrend recorded earlier. Meanwhile, air quality remains “very unfavourable” in Los Llanos and “unfavourable” in El Paso and Tazacorte.
Increased seismicity and new eruptive mouths
The ash cloud will continue to move west and southwest in the coming days. This will help boost air activity over the island. The news about the lava flows is less good as an eruptive mouth opened over the weekend and now threatens new areas. The ejection from this mouth is very active and flows “free-flowing” to the Tacande road.
On the other hand, seismicity has increased in the intermediate zone between 10 and 15 kilometres deep. More than fifty earthquakes have been recorded since Sunday evening, three of which have been felt by the population.
“Maybe we will overcome the eruption of Tehuya”
The situation is such that the Cumbre Vieja eruption may overcome that of the volcano Tehuya in 1646. That eruption lasted 84 days and has been the longest in the past 500 years on La Palma, Prieto said during a press conference. He added that the prediction is “unfortunately” that the eruption will not end any time soon. The Crisis Committee is therefore closely monitoring the evolution of the new flow, which now still moves close to the course of previous lava flows, but slightly more to the north.
At present, the total number of people evacuated from their homes and staying in hotels is 528, plus 43 people in social health centres; and the affected area is 1,102 hectares, according to data from the Cabildo de La Palma.
Not only has the eruption been going on since September 19, but it is the longest for the last 375 years.