Canary Island Volcano Continues To Erupt After Two Weeks

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The Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption is causing extensive damage in La Palma (Credit: INVOLCAN.org)

La Palma, one of Spain's Canary Islands, has been feeling the wrath of the Cumbre Vieja volcano since September 19, 2021. The explosive volcano, which came to life shortly after 3:00 pm local time, has been spewing out large amounts of molten lava, sometimes up to 20 feet (6 meters) high. The slow-moving rivers of magma have destroyed nearly 400 homes, buried dozens of kilometers of roads, and consumed hundreds of acres of farmland.

On Tuesday, September 28, 2021, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute confirmed that the lava had started pouring into the Atlantic Ocean. Officials fear that the magma's interaction with the cold water will release toxic gases and small particles. They are asking area residents to stay indoors and keep their windows closed. Scientists are also concerned that the chemical reactions between the lava and water may result in powerful underwater explosions.

Experts are unsure when Cumbre Vieja, or "Old Summit," will calm down. La Palma's Teneguía volcano, which came alive in 1971, remained active for more than three weeks. "The only way to know is to know the total volume of eruptible magma under Cumbre Vieja," says Pablo J. González, a physical volcanologist at the Spanish National Research Council. "That piece of information is unknown."

The only silver lining is that no lives have been lost yet. Cumbre Vieja provided plenty of warning — in the form of 20,000 small earthquakes — during the week leading up to the first eruption. This, together with the magma's slow pace, has allowed officials to safely evacuate the over 6,000 residents in its path.

The massive volcanic eruption was captured in an image by NASA's Landsat 8 satellite (Credit: Earthobservatory.NASA.gov)

La Palma is among the smallest of the main eight volcanic islands in Spain's Canary Islands archipelago, which is strung along Africa's northwestern coast. The largely rural community of 85,000 residents depends on crops like bananas, avocados, and grapes for its livelihood. Unfortunately, the lava has buried many plantations and left thousands homeless. While it may take months, or perhaps even a few years, to recover from the destruction, the Spanish government has promised to do everything it can to help.

"The people of La Palma should rest assured that we have all the resources and emergency personnel necessary," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said after meeting the local officials on September 19, 2021.

Stay Strong, La Palma!

Resources: elpais.com, Smithsonianmag.com, NPR.com,

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120 Comments
  • hl1b00
    hl1b006 days
    I was there when it happen 😭😭😭😭😭😭
    • bignategf23
      Covid happened now this I feel so bad for the people.
      • queennonobidodo
        That place has a lot of bad luck! I feel sorry for the people living there.😟
        • lucyssupercool
          I know! It's so sad to see what these people are going threw. :(
        • wolf18
          wolf188 days
          92 days?! It's still erupting? I would be scared to live there. I also hope ppl are staying safe and tht no one gets hurt.
          • nauen
            nauen9 days
            I think the volcanic eruption is happening a lot these days! What an unfortunate :( :( But still, it is really interesting and cool to have a look at this volcanic eruption as well. I hope the town and the citizens are safe. :) If you agree with me, please follow me.
            • dani1409
              dani14099 days
              I hope people stay safe on the island!
              • oliccc
                oliccc9 days
                That’s so sad, I really feel bad for them.
                • masterovfan
                  RIP HOMES AND FARM LAND :(
                  • wolf18
                    wolf188 days
                    Not something to joke about
                • gabsgame
                  gabsgame10 days
                  Best of luck to those on the island
                  • coolil09
                    coolil0911 days
                    I feel so bad for the residents who lost their homes. I hope everyone stays safe. Stay strong La Palam! I'll pray for them.