Lava flows from volcano La Palma approaching ocean

by Lorraine Williamson
lava flows
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SANTA CRUZ DE LA PALMA – Because last night more lava flows from the volcano Cumbre Vieja on La Palma, which erupted last Sunday, the lava still threatens to reach the ocean. That is why part of the coastal strip on the island has been cleared. 

If the lava flows into the sea, violent explosions can occur, releasing sharp volcanic glass and toxic gases. The authorities emphasise that it is life-threatening to go and see what will undoubtedly be a great visual natural spectacle. It’s way too dangerous. The lava can reach a temperature of almost 1,300 degrees Celsius. And when it hits the sea, a violent chemical reaction occurs. This is expected to happen off the coast of Tazacorte. 

That is why on Sunday afternoon the residents of the neighbourhoods of San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja, and La Condensa were ordered not to leave their homes and to keep all windows and doors closed. 

Last night, large amounts of lava again came out of the volcano. This accelerated the current to 100 metres per hour. However, when the volcano had just erupted, it was still 700 meters per hour. Due to the slower speed, the authorities have more time to intervene and residents to pack their things if necessary. 

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Mountain may still stop lava 

The lava is currently around 800 metres from the coast. And, according to experts from Pevolca, there is still a chance it could be held back by the mountain at Todoque. This is 320 metres high and as such, could come to a standstill there. What could be contributing to this is that the volcanic quake has “almost disappeared” since Monday morning and the explosive activity has practically stopped. Now volcanologists have yet to figure out whether that’s because there is a blockage somewhere that prevents the magma from encountering obstacles in its way and can’t get out or whether the end of the eruption is in sight. 

Two lava flows 

The lava has split into two tongues. The one on the north side is the most extensive and has reached the town of Todoque. The fear is that the lava will block the only access road left from los Llanos de Aridane (the coastal road). The southern lava flow is located at Montaá Rajada and has a height of 4 to 6 meters and a width of 600 metres. 

About 83,000 inhabitants live on La Palma. So far there have been no personal accidents. And no one has been injured since the eruption more than a week ago. More than 6,000 people had to leave their homes and about 600 homes and commercial buildings were destroyed. 

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