The seismic activity in Cumbre Vieja has intensified in the early hours of this Sunday, September 19, registering tremors that have reached 3.8 on the mbLg scale, in the El Paso area and one kilometer deep, a magnitude of record since the alert for volcanic risk was established, according to the latest records of the National Geographic Institute (IGN). This earthquake, which in an initial assessment had a magnitude of 4 mbLg, took place at 10.16 hours, previously two other earthquakes were recorded in Tazacorte of 2.1, at 10.13 and 10.10 hours. While in El Paso another three intense tremors of 2.3 (10.00 am), 3.2 (09.52 am) and 2.7 (09.48 am) were felt.
Only people within a two kilometer radius of the volcanic fissure would be evacuated
The seismic activity was also intense overnight, with more than 100 tremors in about 12 hours, according to the IGN. The highest magnitude, 3.3 on the mbLg scale, took place this morning, at 07:28, in the municipality of El Paso and was superficial. Later, at 7.49 am, also in El Paso, an earthquake of 2.4 at a depth of one kilometer was registered, and at 8.12 am, one of 3.2, at a kilometer, also in the municipality of El Paso.
The Scientific Committee of the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Attention to Emergencies due to Volcanic Risk (Pevolca), in the statement issued this Saturday, admitted that “the occurrence of earthquakes felt of greater intensity, which can cause damage to buildings, is likely. They can also cause rockfalls in the surroundings of Puerto Naos (from La Bombilla to El Remo) ”.
The Pevolca has recommended this Saturday to keep the volcanic traffic light in yellow in the Cumbre Vieja area, although, it said that “the process continues and it is not ruled out that it may have a rapid evolution in the short term.”
In addition, the experts pointed out that “the deformations are still ongoing, maintaining the speed of yesterday, being compatible with a source of surface deformation. Nor have they ruled out the beginning of other phenomena observable on the surface (changes in temperature, odor and color of the water, anomalous behavior of animals, etc.).
Plan to evacuate the population
The Terrero de Lucha Federico Simón de Las Manchas, in El Paso, hosted this Saturday an informative meeting with residents of the Jedey, San Nicolás and Las Manchas neighborhoods, and also with residents of La Bombilla, El Remo and Puerto Naos, from Los Llanos de Aridane, which could be affected by a hypothetical volcanic eruption caused by the seismic swarm of Cumbre Vieja.
The meeting was attended by the scientific director of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), Nemesio Pérez; Stavros Meletlidis, volcanologist at the National Geographic Institute (IGN); the technical director of Pevolca, Miguel Ángel Morcuende; the Councilor for Security and Emergency of the Cabildo, Nieves Rosa Arroyo, together with the mayor of El Paso, Sergio Rodríguez, and the mayor of Los Llanos de Aridane, Noelia García.
Nemesio Pérez specified that, in the event of an active volcano, only people who live “within a two-kilometer radius of the fissure will be evacuated, not an entire municipality.” He pointed out that at the moment the “ground zero for seismic activity is here, but it can be modified because it is a very dynamic phenomenon.”
Stavros Meletlidis, from the National Geographic Institute (IGN), told attendees that “you have to be on alert without being alarmed.” He explained that the change from yellow to orange traffic light will occur “when the very high probability of an eruption without risk to the population is confirmed.” “It is not necessary to be in an eruption to evacuate, it is a preventive evacuation, not linked to an imminent eruption; at an orange traffic light there is no risk to the population ”, he clarified, adding that“ the evacuation is not based on the magnitude of the earthquakes, only with this data it is not possible to act; they should not think in numbers ”.