La Palma volcano spews lava as it continues to erupt
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It comes as scientists assessed the impact that an episode of multiple extreme events in Tenerife, located in Spain’s Canary Islands, would have today. By reconstructing the last major geological cascading event that took place in the Canary Island 180,000 years ago in Al Abrigo, they were able to analyse what consequences it would have if history repeated itself. The results appear worrying.
In the simulated scenarios, they showed main urban centres and possible evacuation routes of Tenerife would be struck in the event of an eruption, as they could be enveloped by pyroclastic flow deposits and ash fall.
Around 180,000 years ago, Al Abrigo’s eruption also caused a surge of seismic activity when part of the volcano collapsed.
The scientists warned that if this happened again, it would produce “catastrophic” effects in several parts of the island and trigger a “devastating” landslide.
This would reportedly result in a tsunami that would most likely have a severe impact not only on the northern and western coasts of Tenerife, but also on other coasts of the archipelago.
CSIC’s Geosciences Barcelona said in a statement: “Extreme geological events are natural phenomena (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides or tsunamis) of low probability, but high impact, which represent a risk for today’s society due to the difficulty in predicting them.
“These episodes, which can produce chain effects and have a significant local and global impact, are potentially probable on volcanic islands, such as the Canary Islands.”
But Marta Lopez Saavedra, lead author of the study, did give some reassurance that this is not likely to happen anytime soon.
She said: “At present, the Tenerife volcanic system is not in a situation similar to that of the last caldera eruption.
“In fact, reaching the conditions for an eruption like that of El Abrigo may take thousands to hundreds of thousands of years.”
She also said that while the risk is currently low, there is a slight chance of a disaster in the future.
She added: “Zero risk does not exist and unfortunately it is not yet possible to predict eruptions.”
The problem with natural disasters, particularly volcanic eruptions, but also earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis, is that they are difficult to predict and therefore difficult to prepare for.
That is why the researchers thought it was key to try and formulate some sort of prediction based on past eruptions in the Canary Islands.
The study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.
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It comes after an eruption at the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.
The initial eruption on September 19 destroyed homes and led to the evacuation of 6,000 people.
On September 28, the lava reached the sea and clouds of white steam could be seen as it made contact with the water.
The Spanish government declared the island a disaster zone as concerns were raised after the volcano when two new vents in the earth were opened, raising fears of toxic gases.
This has forced 3,500 people to be in lockdown for their own safety.
Spanish emergency services said in a statement: “The new lockdown is as a consequence of the meteorological conditions that prevent the dispersion of gases and keep them at low levels of the atmosphere.”
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