Lava descends from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma. / IGME

Videos | La Palma lava flow carries boulders 'the size of a three-storey building'

This Monday changing weather conditions could cause some ash cloud problems at La Palma airport and also the two on the nearby island of Tenerife. The 'tongues' of red-hot magma, some travelling at 700m/h, have already devastated 526 hectares on the island


The new lava flow produced after the collapse of the northern part of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma on Saturday has destroyed the few buildings that remained standing north of the Todoque neighbourhood.

Before the volcano started to spew molten lava a thousand people lived there and there were almost 1,300 buildings.

The volcanic activity has become more violent and explosive, and according to experts, "louder and more destructive". According to the latest data from Involcan, some 525.77 hectares have already been affected, 33 more than the day before.

The incessant advance of the magma has affected or destroyed 1,281 buildings and infrastructures so far, while more than 6,000 hectares of land have suffered some kind of environmental impact from the eruptions. There are 38.3 kilometres of roads that have been destroyed.

The data, from the European Copernicus satellite programme, could not be updated this Sunday because clouds, smoke and ash prevented accurate images from being obtained.


Temperature of 1,240 degrees

At ground level, the path of the lava flows is being monitored by technicians from the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca). Spain’s Geological and Mining Institute, has said that some of the rivers of magma are carrying "large boulders the size of a three-storey house."

According to sources from the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan) on Sunday, the lava is flowing at a temperature that can reach 1,240 degrees.

Three weeks after the Cumbre Vieja volcano began to spew out lava, it is not yet clear how much it has expelled. According to Pevolca sources, if calculated from sulphur dioxide measurements, 39.6 million cubic metres of magma would have come to the surface, although if satellite observation data is incorporated it would reach 60 million cubic metres.


On Sunday more than fifty seismic movements were detected at depths of between ten and twenty kilometres. The experts confirmed that they were more numerous and of greater magnitude - the largest touching a magnitude of of 4 on the Richter scale, although it occurred about 35 kilometres below the ground.

Meanwhile, there was an improvement in the registered air quality compared to the previous days and the technicians considered it "reasonably good", while the cloud of ash and gases reached a height of 3.5 kilometres.

However, this Monday, 11 October, some changes in the weather conditions are expected that will probably cause some problems, not only for air quality but also for the operation of the La Palma airport and even also for the two on the nearby island of Tenerife.


Spain’s Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, has guaranteed that the Military Emergency Unit (UME) will continue their work on the island for “as long as necessary”. She spoke after visiting the facilities of the El Fuerte military barracks on the island, which has served as a temporary shelter in recent weeks for people evacuated from the area most affected by eruptions.

"La Palma knows that it can count on us," the minister insisted. She pointed out that this Monday the Navy will join the protection and security work on the island and bring various supplies in one of its ships.