Words by Jasmine Crowhurst, News Sub-Editor

The volcano initially erupted on September 19, 2021, and continues to spew large amounts of lava across the island. 

It has continued along The Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge in Las Palmas, one of eight volcanic islands in the Spanish Canary Islands, located along the north-western coast of Africa. 

Three weeks after the volcanic eruption, unstoppable lava flows have destroyed around 1,000 buildings on the western side of the volcanic island, home to a population of 85,000. Blocks of molten lava as large as three storey buildings rolled down the hillside consuming houses, infrastructures, and banana farms, whilst a series of tremors shook the ground. The authorities have warned of new dangers including toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain.

Officials have warned that the volcano is becoming more aggressive.  Most recently, two new fissures have opened in the volcano causing further eruptions and newly opened vents have partially collapsed, causing the lava to flow in multiple directions, with a lava stream flow towards the ocean. Earthquakes have continued to hit the island, with magnitudes of up to 3.5 on the Richter Scale.

Scientists will continue to measure the amount of gas escaping from the volcano and check the magma composition over time and measuring the quantity of material that is being expelled to see how fast the volcano continues to erupt. 

In the week prior to the eruption, scientists had monitored a build-up of underground magma beneath La Palma and detected thousands of low-density earth tremors known as an ‘earthquake swarm’ that indicated an eruption was brewing.  This allowed for about 7,000 of the island’s 83,000 inhabitants to evacuate beforehand. 

The island of La Palma itself is made up of two prominent volcanoes, a large one to the north and a smaller one to the south, which erupted on 19 September. 

Scientists are unclear about how long this eruption could last, estimating that it could last a few weeks or even months.

The last recorded volcanic eruption on land in Spain occurred in La Palma almost exactly 50 years ago, in October 1971, when the Teneguía vent spewed lava for around three weeks. 

Prior to the Las Palmas eruption, the last recorded eruption in the Canary Islands happened underwater in 2011, lasting for 5 months off the coast of El Hierro Island. 

Events correct at time of writing.

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