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Live video | La Palma volcano lava flow is within 800-metres of an 'explosive' meeting with the sea

The volcano continues to spew lava.
The volcano continues to spew lava. / EFE
  • Experts admit they are on edge for what is going to happen next

The lava from the La Palma volcano is flowing faster and the liquid magma is now between 800 and 1,000 metres from the coast, according to experts in Spain's Canary Islands.

According to the latest data from the Copernicus terrestrial observation satellite system, the lava, which in some sections reaches a thickness of up to 50 metres, has destroyed 686 buildings including houses and farms. In addition, the lava has already devastated 22.2 kilometres of roads and the lava flow extends over 258 hectares.

"The lava flow is less than 1,000 metres from the coast of Tazacorte", Miguel Ángel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Risk Prevention Plan (Pevolca), said in an interview. Speaking to RTVE he admitted, “honestly, I cannot say what is going to happen next. We have been waiting for two or three days for the magma to reach the coast, but in the lower reaches it is struggling”.

The 'explosive' contact of the lava with the sea is dangerous for the nearby population, due to the toxicity of the gas mixture given off, but also because it could vitrify, be carried into the cloud and fall onto nearby areas in the form of splinters, according to the expert in volcanology, José Luis Barrera of the College of Geologists (ICOG).

Journalists follow the developments from a viewpoint in El Paso

Journalists follow the developments from a viewpoint in El Paso / EFE

Hiatus

On Sunday afternoon, the Cumbre Vieja volcano roared with intensity and simultaneously ejected fluid magma and a column of pyroclasts from two mouths. But on Monday, shortly before dawn, it fell eerily silent for two hours. It was a disconcerting break in the eruption that regained its strength on Monday night.

“We have seen this before in other volcanoes. In the underwater volcano of El Hierro we had a hiatus of a few hours in December, but the eruption ended in February, explains the National Geographic Institute (IGN) volcanologist, Itahiza Domínguez.

On edge

Experts have also recorded a new cluster of 16 earthquakes that occurred between 5am and 8 in the morning south of Cabeza de Vaca. “They were located right where the September 11 swarm began. It may that the magma conduit has been plugged at some point and that the pressure has released that energy”, is a theory that Domínguez offers.

Inés Galindo, a volcanologist of the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME), who is in La Palma monitoring the situation admits the volcano is keeping the scientists on edge. "We are always on edge, but sometimes we have a little more information than others."