2021-09-29 23:20:01 La Palma Volcano Lava Hits Ocean, Creating a Pyramid and Toxic Gas Risks

La Palma Volcano Lava Hits Ocean, Creating a Pyramid and Toxic Gas Risks

On Wednesday, ten days into a volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma, a pyramid-like structure formed just off its coast as lava began to pour into the sea.

On Wednesday morning, local authorities advised residents to keep their windows closed because molten lava may release a mixture of toxic gases and small particles when it comes into contact with cold water. Scientists have also warned that chemical reactions between lava and water could result in massive underwater explosions.

The lava entering the water should be considered a “very dangerous moment,” according to ngel Vctor Torres, regional leader of the Canary Islands, an island group off the coast of northwest Africa that includes La Palma.

The eruption began on September 19 in the Cumbre Vieja nature park, a sparsely populated area of La Palma with a population of 85,000 people. Over 6,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as lava and fire wreaked havoc on the area, destroying more than 500 homes. While banana plantations and other farmland have been destroyed, no deaths or injuries have been reported.

Scientists were unsure how long the eruption would last. Over the last ten days, the volcano has erupted more than 50 million cubic meters of lava, which is more than the previous eruption on La Palma, which lasted three weeks in 1971.

The lava flow reached the water after an unpredictable journey toward the ocean, almost coming to a halt in an area of flatter terrain at one point. There were also several minor earthquakes along the way, and new vents from which lava escaped. The airport on La Palma had to close briefly last weekend due to ash, which made visibility for pilots impossible.

“The main concern now is the production of chloride clouds that may impact the air quality and affect the surroundings,” said Arnau Folch, a volcanologist and professor of natural hazards at Spain’s National Research Council, over the phone. “It’s a complicated situation with multiple hazards occurring at the same time.”

The pyramid-like structure off the coast of La Palma is expected to grow as more lava solidifies. According to Mr. Folch, the 1971 eruption increased the surface area of La Palma by about 5%.

Mr. Torres, the regional leader, told Cope, a Spanish radio station, on Wednesday that “the whole of the Canary Islands has slept very little, including those on La Palma seized by fear and deep sadness” since the lava began to spew out.

The Spanish government allocated 10.5 million euros, or more than $12 million, to assist La Palma’s recovery on Tuesday. About half of that money will be used to build new homes for those whose homes were destroyed by the eruption.

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La Palma Volcano Lava Hits Ocean, Creating a Pyramid and Toxic Gas Risks