Canary Islands: Eruption effects may last months

Published : September 22, 2021 16:18 IST

More residents have been evacuated as lava continues to flow towards the sea. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Researchers say the eruption on La Palma could wreak havoc throughout December in a worst-case scenario. Earthquakes, lava flows, toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain are continuing to pose a danger to residents.

The volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma and its aftermath could last up to 84 days, experts said on September 22.

The Canary Island Volcanology Institute (INVOLCAN) said it analyzed similar historical eruptions on the Canary Islands archipelago to reach the figure. The volcano erupted on Sunday after a week of seismic activity that progressed to a 3.8 magnitude quake.

Estimating the end of the eruption

INVOLCAN looked at data from past eruptions in the region that, like the latest eruption, were followed by heavy lava flows and lasting seismic activity. While 84 days was the maximum, the institute suggested a minimum of 24 days and an average of 55 days until the eruption stops.

The latest on the eruption

Experts at the Volcanology Institute reported an increase in smaller eruptions on September 21 night that saw rocks and cinders thrown high into the air. The lava now covers 154 hectares and it continues to flow towards the sea.

Some 1,000 people were evacuated late on September 21 from the coastal neighborhood of Todoque. The total number of people evacuated now stands at around 6,000. Authorities say that dangers still lie ahead for residents, including earthquakes, lava flows, toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain.

There are particular concerns that the meeting of the lava with a body of water could cause explosions and produce clouds of toxic gas. The volcano has also been spewing out between 8,000 and 10,500 tons of sulfur dioxide every day, the Volcanology Institute said. The gas is harmful to ecosystems and can cause respiratory problems in humans.

kmm/sms (AFP, EFE)

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