Canary Island Volcano Continues To Erupt After Two Weeks

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The Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption is causing extensive damage in La Palma (Credit: INVOLCAN.org)

La Palma, one of Spain's Canary Islands, has been feeling the wrath of the Cumbre Vieja volcano since September 19, 2021. The explosive volcano, which came to life shortly after 3:00 pm local time, has been spewing out large amounts of molten lava, sometimes up to 20 feet (6 meters) high. The slow-moving rivers of magma have destroyed nearly 400 homes, buried dozens of kilometers of roads, and consumed hundreds of acres of farmland.

On Tuesday, September 28, 2021, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute confirmed that the lava had started pouring into the Atlantic Ocean. Officials fear that the magma's interaction with the cold water will release toxic gases and small particles. They are asking area residents to stay indoors and keep their windows closed. Scientists are also concerned that the chemical reactions between the lava and water may result in powerful underwater explosions.

Experts are unsure when Cumbre Vieja, or "Old Summit," will calm down. La Palma's Teneguía volcano, which came alive in 1971, remained active for more than three weeks. "The only way to know is to know the total volume of eruptible magma under Cumbre Vieja," says Pablo J. González, a physical volcanologist at the Spanish National Research Council. "That piece of information is unknown."

The only silver lining is that no lives have been lost yet. Cumbre Vieja provided plenty of warning — in the form of 20,000 small earthquakes — during the week leading up to the first eruption. This, together with the magma's slow pace, has allowed officials to safely evacuate the over 6,000 residents in its path.

The massive volcanic eruption was captured in an image by NASA's Landsat 8 satellite (Credit: Earthobservatory.NASA.gov)

La Palma is among the smallest of the main eight volcanic islands in Spain's Canary Islands archipelago, which is strung along Africa's northwestern coast. The largely rural community of 85,000 residents depends on crops like bananas, avocados, and grapes for its livelihood. Unfortunately, the lava has buried many plantations and left thousands homeless. While it may take months, or perhaps even a few years, to recover from the destruction, the Spanish government has promised to do everything it can to help.

"The people of La Palma should rest assured that we have all the resources and emergency personnel necessary," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said after meeting the local officials on September 19, 2021.

Stay Strong, La Palma!

Resources: elpais.com, Smithsonianmag.com, NPR.com,

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168 Comments
  • oliviarodrigo
    oliviarodrigoabout 10 hours
    Oh no!! That is very scary Praying for them. Hope you guys are safe
    • hankc
      hankc1 day
      yeh it is very dangerous
      • ponygirl11
        I hope that not everyone is hurt.😔
        • rose2021
          rose202113 days
          good luck
          • chloejeanlouis
            hi hope some people live I feel bad for them and I'm sorry for your loss if people lost loved ones
          • ziwynoze-163707660459
            the lava looks so cool!
            • hankc
              hankc1 day
              it isn't cool it is very dangerous
            • desidog
              desidog14 days
              I hope that the people in La Palma will be okay.
              • prettydiva
                prettydiva15 days
                #WePrayforyou 🙏🙏
                • texasgal2011
                  praying for all the people that live there #savelapalma
                  • thescaryduck
                    Lava looks amazeing 😎
                    • candykween
                      candykween19 days
                      NO POR FAVOR NOOOOOOOO