La palma island volcano: A Changed Landscape on La Palma
La Palma Island Volcanic Eruption Sends Lava Flowing to Residential Buildings | Smart News
Some experts suspect that the lava’s heat at a scorching 1,800 degrees could trigger landslides or explosions and release toxic gases when it reaches the ocean and collides with the ocean water.
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On September 19, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain’s La Palma Island exploded into a fury of red plumes and smoke that spewed lava 14,000 feet into the air, Renata Brito and Barry Hatton report or the Associated Press.
The volcano’s eruption is the first in 50 years in the Canary archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Africa, Raphael Minder reports for the New York Times. The stream-like lava flow engulfed nearby forests and homes, forcing 5,000 locals and 500 tourists to evacuate, Scott Neuman reports for NPR. The eruption followed a week of seismic activity where more than 22,000 tremors were reported, per Borja Suarez for Reuters.
“When the volcano erupted today, I was scared. For journalists, it is something spectacular, for us, it is a tragedy. I think the lava has reached some relatives’ houses,” Isabel Fuentes, a resident told Spanish television TVE, Reuters reports. “I was five years old when the volcano last erupted (in 1971). You never get over a volcanic eruption.”
La Palma is the smallest of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Just before the eruption, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake shook the island, reports the New York Times. Since the volcano’s eruption, streams of lava from five fissures on the side of the volcano continued to spill out. On the first day following the eruption, lava was moving at a whopping 2,300 feet per hour, reports the Associated Press. One 2,000-foot-wide lava stream finally slowed to 13 feet per hour after reaching a plain on Wednesday, per AP.
Lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. A volcano on a small Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean erupted on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. pic.twitter.com/CKx3ygb4T0
— Emilio Morenatti (@EmilioMorenatti) September 23, 2021
Since the volcano’s eruption, streams of lava from five fissures on the side of the volcano continued to spill out.
Europa Press News/Getty Images
By Thursday, September 23, the lava flow’s advancement slowed, along with the seismic activity, but molten rock was still spewing from the volcano, per the Associated Press. Nearly 26 million cubic meters of molten rock have been emitted so far. Some experts suspect that the lava’s heat at a scorching 1,800 degrees could trigger landslides or explosions and release toxic gases when it reaches the ocean and collides with the water, reports Tereza Pultarova for Space.com.
“The lava is advancing very slowly because it cools in contact with the atmosphere, through friction with the ground and building materials and, above all, because its front edge is widening out,” explains Starvos Meletlidis, a volcanologist with Spain’s National Geographic Institute, to the Associated Press.
In some places, as the lava flow slowed and grew thicker, it rose to 50 feet high. In total, the lava has covered 410 acres and destroyed roughly 350 homes. Scientists suspect the flows could last a few weeks or months. Also known as the Old Summit, Cumbre Vieja’s last eruption persisted for three weeks, reports Nicoletta Lanese for Live Science.
Multiple videos of the lava flowing into the nearby village of El Paso have been shared on social media platforms. In some videos, homes were seen engulfed by lava, including one that shows molten rock spilling into a swimming pool. About 400 firefighters and emergency workers have been sent from other islands in the Canary archipelago to assist with any fires caused by the lava flows, reports Al Goodman and Vasco Cotovio for CNN.
La Palma islanders slowly rebuild lives after volcano destroys homes
Thousands of people who lost their homes – and a lifetime of memories – as the lava and ash from a volcano eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma engulfed their houses, are slowly starting to rebuild their lives, or at least trying.
Roselio Gonzalez was amongst those whose home was gone after the eruption. Now, the 49-year-old truck driver and his extended family are dispersed across the island in temporary housing but he is determined to rebuild his life.
“We can’t long for what no longer exists. We have to go forward,” Gonzalez said, standing in front of a police post that blocks entry to the eruption exclusion zone where his home lies.
He is one of the roughly 7,000 people living away from their homes since the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on Sept. 19, spewing rivers of molten rock and sending ash plumes containing toxic gases into the air.
Gonzalez had initially been allowed to return to his house, just 600 meters (1,970 feet) from the volcano, to collect pills for his mother and family photos.
The volcano in the Canary Islands off northwest Africa fell silent on Monday evening and scientists are cautiously optimistic that after three months of explosions and earthquakes, the eruption may be ending.
“Let’s hope,” said Gonzalez who now lives with his partner at her mother’s home.
Gonzalez and his former neighbors have set up an association to help rebuild the island – “a marathon” which he predicts will take at least a decade.
No injuries or deaths have been directly linked to the eruption on the island of around 83,000 people but the lava flow has destroyed 1,345 homes, mainly on the western side of La Palma.
‘There is mourning’
“There is mourning because if you lose your house it is like losing a relative,” said Estefania Martin, a psychologist who counsels victims at a center in the western town of Los Llanos de Aridane.
Pedro Noel Perez, a 44-year-old health care worker and musician, said his family’s home of 48 years and “half” of his neighborhood “no longer exists.”
“I no longer have those neighbors but I will always have them here,” he added, placing his hand over his heart.
Many of his former neighbors were on hand to see him sing during a recent small concert in Los Llanos, which is slowly recovering its usual rhythm.
Perez said he only recently got back his desire to rehearse after weeks of disrupted sleep due to the constant roar of the volcano.
“Taking sleeping pills, using earplugs, it undermines morale,” he said.
The slow-moving lava has covered over 1,200 hectares (about 3,000 acres) of land as it made its way to the Atlantic, much of it banana plantations, the island’s main livelihood along with tourism.
“In the short term it is our complete ruin,” said 50-year-old banana farmer Victor Manuel as he traveled on a navy ship taking people to plantations and businesses now inaccessible by road.
“I may have to leave and look for something else on another island, because public institutions are not providing solutions, and I have to save myself and my family,” he added.
‘I have no hope’
As the ship docked at the picturesque beach of Puerto Naos – now covered in black ash – Pedro Javier Martin pointed to the restaurant and home he was forced to abandon when the volcano erupted.
“I have no hope… we are ruined,” the 65-year-old said.
“This animal should stop now,” he added, referring to the volcano.
The volcanic eruption – the longest on La Palma since records started being kept in the 16th century – has caused at least 842 million euros ($949 million) in damage, according to the regional government.
Jesica Diaz’s home in a seaside neighborhood was not damaged but it is located in an exclusion zone.
A house is covered with a pile of lava, following the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, in La Laguna, on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain, Dec.