Volcanic plume stretches towards Canary Islands

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Volcanic plums as shown on Windy.com stretching across Atlantic Ocean

Following the eruption of La Soufrière on the Caribbean island of St Vincent on 8th April, a volcanic plume of sulphur dioxide is spreading across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Canary Islands.

The eruption left St Vincent covered in a blanket of white ash. It also produced a volcanic plume of sulphur dioxide (SO2) which stretches across the Atlantic Ocean.

Experts say there is nothing to be concerned about as SO2 travels at high altitudes, around 3,000-5,000 metres above sea level. Therefore, it should not affect wildlife or people.

Volcanic plume travelling thousands of kilometres

The SO2 cloud could travel many thousands of kilometres. The tongue reached the Canary Islands during the night. However, there is no suggestion there will be any risk to people in the archipelago.

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What is sulphur dioxide?

Sulphur dioxide is an invisible gas consisting of one part sulphur to two parts oxygen. The gas does not often reach the surface, travelling at higher altitudes.

The majority of SO2 is produced as a result of human activity. It is also responsible for acid rain. Meteorologists will monitor the situation closely until any risk has passed.

Canary Islands are volcanic

The Canary Islands are also a chain of volcanic ocean islands. Mount Teide on Tenerife is probably the most famous of the archipelago’s volcanos and is the highest peak in Spain. It last erupted in 1909. The island of La Gomera has not seen an eruption in 3 million years.

In 2018, the British tabloid media falsely created a sensation. They claimed volcanic eruptions were highly likely. This was immediately explained away by the Canary Islands. In any case, Mount Teide has a high-tech monitoring system such as is found in Hawaii or for Etna in Sicily. The current alert level is green – no threat.


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