The lava flow from the La Palma volcano has reached the sea on the coast of Tazacorte this Tuesday, at 11:00 p.m. (Canary time), after 10 days of volcanic eruption. Geography doctor Carmen Romero explained live in Canary TVMinutes after this milestone of the new volcano occurred, that the arrival of the wash on the coast is “a frequent image” in the volcanic processes of the island. In fact, he noted, “of the last 10, six ended up in the Atlantic.”
The lava fulfills the omens and looks out to the sea to the fear of the population of La Palma: “We are under constant tension”
When the lava has touched the sea there has been a brutal thermal shock between the magma river, at about 1,000 degrees Celsius, and the ocean, at about 20. Due to this, the water has evaporated forming a toxic cloud that contains substances harmful to people, such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid or hydrofluoric acid. The professor in toxicology at the University of La Laguna Arturo Hardisson warned this Wednesday that the gases that are being emitted “do not have a striking odor, so they do not warn and can burn the lungs.” The expert called on the population to stay one or two kilometers away from the coast of Tazacorte and asked that, in the case of needing to approach the area, the surgical mask should be impregnated with bicarbonate, in addition to wearing protective glasses, a hat, closed shoes and long shirt and pants.
Among the effects of the toxic cloud, Hardisson warned that inhaling these gases can cause serious irritation, especially in the eyes. He explained that these acids in the air can “burn the lungs and cause death.” In addition, if it comes into contact with the skin, he said, “gases can cause cardiopulmonary arrest.”
At the moment, the lava continues to fall unstoppably down a cliff between 40 and 100 meters high, creating “a perfect golden pyramid that is accumulating at the base,” describes Eugenio Fraile from the oceanographic vessel Ramón Margalef.
In the sea, the lava will advance first through the intertidal zone, about two or three meters deep; then the subtidal (20 meters), and further on, a kilometer away, you will find depths of about 300 meters. This was also explained on public television by the professor in Geology José Mangas. “All the fauna and flora at the bottom of the sea will die due to the intrusion of the magmatic material, which, yes, in a few years will leave a much richer ecosystem, as already happened with the underwater eruption in El Hierro 10 years ago”, concluded.
The stream that reached the sea begins to form a lava delta
The lava flow has begun to form a lava delta that “little by little is gaining ground from the sea,” as explained this Wednesday by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography.
Lava deltas are formed by the solidification of lava on contact with water. It cools and breaks so that the fragments settle on the seabed and form a non-uniform surface. So far there is no known estimate of the size that it has already reached.
The process will continue as long as the lava flow is maintained, so it will grow, filling adjoining areas and even collapsing some already formed in others.
The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, has trusted that the path that the lava has found to the sea will now stop expanding the flows on land and, therefore, expanding the damage it causes on the island. This was detailed this Wednesday in Cope, where he stressed that the best scenario is to stop “expanding and affecting more homes”, despite the fact that there is already “tremendous and irreparable damage” in both population and agricultural areas.
Torres said that according to updated data early in the morning on Wednesday “it continues to flow towards the sea” with “normality” and that the citizens of the areas that were determined are “confined because they have problems in the air.”
The president recalled that this “was a dangerous moment” since lava at “1,000 degrees” came into contact with water at “22.23 degrees” due to “emissions, toxicity and explosions.” In addition, he pointed out that “seismicity has not increased” and that everything is on a “normal” pattern.
He added that the residents of La Palma and the entire Canary Islands have been “shrunken by fear” for 10 days and defended that now it is the most complex part, which is reconstruction, which “is not easy” but has the advantage that administrations are “united”. The volcano already has “much more” spilled magma than the previous eruption on the island, which has created a “dramatic situation”. “The damage to farms is tremendous. Many crops are lost. And we are still in the middle of the emergency,” he said.
Salvamento Marítimo has prohibited the passage of any ship within a distance of two miles from the coast and part of the 743 security and emergency personnel on land maintain an exclusion radius of 2 kilometers. The scientific committee of the Special Plan for Protection against Volcanic Risk of the Canary Islands (PEVOLCA) recommended establishing these perimeters because “when lava flows reach the coast, interaction with the ocean can generate explosions, gas emanations and detachment of the lava front ”.
As a preventive measure, also in the early hours of this Monday, the confinement of four neighborhoods of Tazacorte: San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa, before the imminent arrival of the lava to the sea was ordered. The Pevolca also insists on not approaching the washes due to the risk of being exposed to the gases emitted, possible landslides and high temperatures; In addition, it highlights the importance of reinforcing information to the population so that they can take self-protection measures against the danger posed by the emission of ashes by the eruptive centers.
Minutes before arrival at sea
The mayor of Tazacorte, Miguel Rodríguez, affirmed this Tuesday that in just 24 hours the lava from the volcano advanced what it had not traveled in all of last week, when it seemed to have stagnated in the town of Todoque. However, since this Monday afternoon, when the volcano was reactivated after a few hours inactive, the lava was more fluid and traveled the meters that separated it from the coast, about 2,000, in a matter of hours.
The lava, according to the mayor of Tazacorte, destroyed banana trees on the last day and, predictably, a small town of eight or nine houses. It also affected one of the busiest roads on the island, which now makes it difficult to access the homes of the southern residents of the municipality of Tazacorte and Los Llanos de Aridane.
“I have no words, what can I say to the neighbors who have lost their homes. I ask for peace and quiet, that in some way we are going to try to keep them covered and we are going to help them. The life they had is gone,” Rodríguez lamented.
While the lava flow reached the sea in Tazacorte, in Fuencaliente, around 11:19 p.m. (Canary time), a 3.6 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 12 kilometers deep, in a day in which up to 24 earthquakes were recorded, with a maximum magnitude of 3.3.