The municipality of Mazo is located 20 kilometers by road from the volcanic eruption of La Palma. An earthquake of magnitude 4.3 was recorded there on Thursday, the highest intensity so far since the volcano erupted on September 19. These earthquakes have not stopped occurring in these three weeks, a phenomenon within the normal in an eruptive process in the Archipelago, according to the experts who make up the Volcanic Emergency Plan of the Canary Islands (Pevolca). However, the population of Mazo and Fuencaliente, affected by the earthquakes, is on guard against the idea that a new emissions center could be opened near them.
The north flank of the La Palma volcano collapses
To reassure the population, the scientific committee that directs the emergency in La Palma has decided to hold two information sessions, “not alert meetings”, as the mayor of the municipality, Goretti Pérez Corujo, has qualified this wording. Upon entering the Mazo pavilion, where the first meeting of the afternoon was taking place, more than 500 residents of a brochure with the Island Action Plan for Volcanic Risk, produced by the Cabildo de La Palma. In it, basic information about action in cases of volcanic crisis, a list of frequently asked questions, a history of the eruptions on the island and the explanation of what the warning traffic lights are is transferred to the population.
In these meetings, Pevolca has decided to count on the collaboration of several expert voices with the aim of conveying a message of tranquility to the public. At the moment there is no imminent risk of a new mouth opening in these areas, they insisted.
The volcanologist of the National Geographic Institute Stavros Meletlidis explained to the neighbors, first from Mazo and then from Fuencaliente, that the presence of these tremors felt by the population are frequent in the eruptive processes of the Canary Islands. For example, in the underwater eruption of El Hierro, a variety of earthquakes were recorded in Tenerife. The rigidity of the rock allows the waves to travel, which explains why the Cumbre Vieja eruption reached these municipalities in the form of seismic movements.
The fear of losing everything
Sitting in the fourth row is Adela, a 70-year-old neighbor from Madrid who has lived in Mazo for 30 years. Adela prepared some changes of clothes and some documentation on the day the volcano erupted, but over time she has also carried two Sleeping bag. “The other day I felt a tremor around eight o’clock at night and shook to the chair,” he confesses. Adela attends the meeting with the hope of obtaining a certainty that will allow her to fall asleep during the night. For two weeks this neighbor of La Palma has been sleeping, but she cannot rest. Every two hours he wakes up in case something new happens.
When an earthquake occurs, Adela likes to look online at how deep the epicenter is since, despite the tremors, this is a parameter used by experts to determine the probability of an eruption. The technical director of Pevolca, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, explained in detail to the residents of Mazo the current situation of the municipality. At the moment, Mazo is not in danger because the variables that warn of a volcanic eruption are not located in its perimeter. In this area the experts have not detected a deformation of the terrain, no fumaroles, or fissures. In addition, seismic movements originate beyond 10 kilometers of depth.
Like Adela, María * wants to know if she can go to sleep at night with the assurance that the next morning her home will not be in danger. Although he has not obtained an accurate answer to his question, he has received a message of hope. For his part, the coordinator of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), Nemesio Pérez, has asked the population to fulfill “their quota of responsibility so as not to regret any human victim” and to be able to win the goal of the soccer game that the palmeros: “Keep the death counter at zero.”
While many neighbors left the venue, the committee of experts answered all the doubts of the attendees. At the end, Nemesio Pérez sent a message of unity to the Canarian population. “Living on volcanic islands implies long periods of tranquility, with others more difficult,” he said. The existence of the Canary Islands as it is known today is due to the role that volcanoes have had in its creation. “The eruptions have built this land and we cannot have a negative view of them,” concluded the volcanologist before applause he received on behalf of all the teams working on the catastrophe.