The lava from the La Palma volcano has begun to form a delta on the coast of Tazacorte, which “little by little is gaining ground from the sea”, has advanced the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO). This was also confirmed by the director of the CSIC’s Geosciences Barcelona group, Joan Martí: “The island will grow a little more,” he said, expanding its limits to the southwest.
La Palma volcano lava reaches the sea
So far, there is no known estimate of the size that this new delta has already reached, which is made up of the solidification of the lava on contact with water. The magmatic material cools and breaks up so that the fragments are deposited on the seabed and form a non-uniform surface. This process will continue as long as the lava flow is maintained, so it will grow, filling adjoining areas and even collapsing some already formed.
When the lava touched the sea this Tuesday, at around 11:00 p.m. (Canary time), there was a brutal thermal shock between the magma river, at about 1,000 degrees Celsius, and the ocean, at about 20. Because of this, the water it is evaporating, forming a toxic cloud that contains substances that are 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.”
For these reasons, the Cabildo de La Palma has recommended this Wednesday to the residents of the confined neighborhoods (San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa) that they do not leave their houses and that they stay outside the exclusion zone, adding that access to evacuated areas will not be allowed.
In its social networks, the island palm corporation has also indicated that the irrigation operation for farmers with farms in Puerto Naos, El Remo and Las Hoyas is paralyzed.
Effects on marine flora and fauna
The fall of the lava from the new volcano of La Palma into the sea will initially negatively affect the marine flora and fauna, but in the long run its impact will be enriching, and the gases that are emitted in contact with sea water are not a danger, said this Wednesday the CSIC volcanologist Joan Martín.
Joan Martí has indicated that the normal thing is that, as happened with the underwater eruption that occurred in El Hierro in 2011, the entry of lava into the marine ecosystem causes a significant and negative effect, since material at a very high temperature is introduced.
Chemical elements that are not in balance are also introduced into the system, so the immediate impact will be negative, but, in the long run, the ecosystem will reproduce and enrich much more than it was, Martí pointed out.
Therefore, the consequences in the medium and long term will be positive, as it has been in El Hierro, he added.