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La Palma/Cumbre Vieja Volcano in the Canaries (4 Viewers)

bjdeming

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Actually it's pretty sunny on La Palma, too, per this behind-the-scenes look at the RTVC broadcast site :)


No new emergency tweets from 112 Canarias (their 911, I guess) or mentioned on the news.

Per browser translation and El Mundo coverage, PEVOLCA's technical director said at the press conference, among other things, that (their emphasis):

We are facing a strombolian fissural volcanic event, which means that the different emission centers that are happening do so along a fissure, in this case in a northwest-southeast direction, in which a series of emitting centers appear that can be turned off and new ones appear or even reappearing those already extinguished...Morcuende insisted that it is a "typical" eruption of the archipelago and that, although during the day of this Friday there was a significant increase in the energy of the eruption, "it follows the usual canons", which does not exclude dangerousness, so he emphasized the need to take extreme precautions.

He explained that in the afternoon / night of yesterday, on the northwest face of the crater there was the opening of two emitting centers, which have been merged into a single mouth, where a new stream has been flowing that has been distributed above the previous [lava], which has its end in the neighborhood of Todoque.

"This new casting," he continued, "has been very fluid because it comes from more interior parts of the [conduit] and is at a higher temperature until it starts to cool on the surface and starts to slow down."

At the moment, there is a lava emitting center that is above Montaña Rajada, an emission that had been working the first days and that stopped emitting. "It does not cause us concern but we are following it," he said.
 

Tennie

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For anyone interested, Volcano Cafe has an article summarizing the known geological history of La Palma, putting this recent eruption into some geologic context:

 

bjdeming

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IGME just released their latest drone video. Per other interviews I've read, this is full, not partial collapse; the two vents (former summit and the flank vent that formed when yesterday's twin streams merged) are still in place, with increased activity now that the overburden is gone; and the new lava is hot and not so viscous, running over the older flow. ? whether it will reach the sea (passing through more dense infrastructure along the way).


 

bjdeming

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The eruption, about three hours ago. Wonder if this side flow if incidental or an indication of flow direction change. The two main flows of yesterday reportedly have slowed, but one is traveling over new ground (updated).


They are calling it a partial cone collapse now, but the big news at the most recent PEVOLCA conference is that the seismicity remains in the same place; this means that the eruption has stabilized, the IGN Canaries director says.

AND the area is deflating now, per INVOLCAN; they add that this doesn't mean the eruption is ending. But I think it's a good sign. INVOLCAN calls it a "middle phase."

As for sulfur dioxide, about 52 kilotons yesterday and 57 today. For comparison, though I haven't followed it closely, the highest values that I've seen reported for that big effusive eruption ongoing in Iceland were well under 20 kilotons and reports of those values were infrequent.

This Cumbre Vieja magma has a high sulfur content.
 
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bjdeming

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Landsat got some good images today:


Here's a perspective, using Sentinel images (at the end, that's Teide in the background, over on Tenerife -- the Canaries' BIG volcano, and sound asleep currently):

 

bjdeming

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The eruption is evolving: The tremor dropped overnight, and reportedly there was a dramatic decrease in eruption activity, too. Per the IGN Canaries director, this could be due to a conduit change of some sort. News tweets within the hour report the eruption has just now resumed.

Interestingly, a new seismic swarm has begun at the site of earlier swarms and at about the same depth: 7-14 km. (The lava, when it first emerged eight days ago, came out at some distance from the precursory swarms, probably IMO because of underground structure.)

Here's a seismicity graphic that a cartographer shared (the second one, below), from the eruption's start through just before 8 a.m., local time, today. Apparently they're going to call this the Cabeza de Vaca (Cow's Head ) Cone.


I have no idea what will happen next but hope the eruption is winding down, not pausing.
 

bjdeming

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It has returned with a vengeance. Per latest report at El Mundo (their emphasis, browser translation);

After the interruption of the activity this morning and after hours spitting steam and ash, but not lava, the volcano has again entered an explosive phase shortly before 20.00 (peninsular time).

Before 8:30 p.m., large jets of lava were already visible coming out of the mouth, as well as rivers of lava falling down the volcanic edifice that were reminiscent of the images we observed on the first day of the eruption, reports Angel Diaz.

Here is their live feed -- the rate resembles what we saw at the eruption's start at the now-quiescent fissures.

 
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bjdeming

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There is a human facet to volcano emergencies that is seldom covered -- public reaction -- and that's especially true on small islands. (Iceland and Hawaii are exceptions, of course: active volcanoes are their thing.)

I didn't realize how tight the media control on this eruption is until I just looked for a Creative Commons image to update my blog with. Usually with a spectacle like this, you have your pick. In this case, there are no images of the ongoing eruption. On Shutterstock, I found two generic-looking lava fountain images, at a distance.

A few days ago, La Palma media did announce that they won't show evacuees or images of property destruction because it is stressful. It's not total censorship, as one look at the live or old streams shows. And a few evacuees do give interviews.

But this is by no means a public spectacle like Kilauea 2018 and Fagradalsfjall (Iceland) 2021.

The island's international airport isn't handling flights at the moment (they had just begun to when Round Two started, up at the cone). Authorities are asking outsiders to not try to sail in to watch the eruption.

And while I'm all for free speech, I approve of this apparent caution. A whole lot of people on the western side of this small island are basically locked up with that eruption. There's population on the eastern side, too, but access by land from the west doesn't look easy on a map. Marine approaches are busy with emergency personnel/material.

They're handling it beautifully, but you don't want to stress los palmeros out any more than what's unavoidable.

There are many positive approaches that can be and apparently are being taken to manage the crisis at all levels. Most importantly, officials are telling the truth: this is awful to experience, but it is a perfectly normal way for Canary Islands basaltic volcanoes like Cumbre Vieja to behave. (Teide can get explosive, but that is a totally unconnected system, and anyway Teide sleeps.)

I have read papers about communication during crisis; it's also fascinating to watch experts do this in real time.
 

bjdeming

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Not all the awesome images are from lava.


Meanwhile, the new flow is farther along than the old one and burning plastics, etc., though that nasty smoke cloud has disappeared from view.

TROPOMI sulfur data is still high, in this layperson's opinion, but at some 26 kilotons, about half last reported estimate from Round One lava, which was also more viscous; don't know whether that viscosity could explain the difference (sticky lava holds its volatiles longer), or if it is a different batch with different chemistry, or a combination, or something else entirely.

Anyway, the sulfur cloud will reach the Arctic.


Not sure about the signals farther east, or to the west, but zonally at least, that's from Cumbre Vieja.
 
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bjdeming

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INVOLCAN reports today that the seismicity levels remain stable. This will continue for a while, IMO.

Meanwhile, per El Mundo (browser translation; their emphasis):

The Minister responsible for Territorial Planning of the Government of the Canary Islands, José Antonio Valbuena, has affirmed that there will be no limits in documents, regulations or laws for "a human solution", for urban and social reconstruction in La Palma,only the limit imposed by nature and what is technically and constructively impossible.

"Now the volcano is still talking, when it finishes we will talk and our goal is that the trucks loaded with belongings return loaded with belongings," Valbuena said in the plenary session of Parliament, stressing that neither the soil nor environmental laws were conceived for a volcanic eruption.

The Canary Islands are facing an unprecedented exercise in the civilized world, a volcanic eruption in the midst of an urban consolidation, and the response will have "more heart than head," said the counselor, who found support in all parliamentary groups.

Places like Auckland are probably focusing on that aspect of the eruption, too.
 
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bjdeming

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Two new, extremely productive vents have opened, about 15 meters apart (per El Mundo) and some 600 meters north of the currently active one. More infrastructure will be trashed.

 

bjdeming

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Lava rapids and "waterfalls" in town (? which town): awesome but heartbreaking.


This stuff is extremely fluid (obviously) and presumably extremely hot. Also, tremor remains high, per a tweet from Radio Canarias, and seismicity is ongoing at the original swarm site, same depth.
 

bjdeming

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Some dramatic views from space, too, particularly in light of the fact that it's not coming from the initial fountaining fissures up on the ridge (which are dead just now, AFAIK) but from a part of town that, two weeks ago, people were living and working in and driving through.


Check out the thread, too.
 

bjdeming

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I'm just reading Twitter translations of excerpts from the 2 p.m. (local) press conference. Here are a few:

  • A thermal weather inversion yesterday worsened air quality yesterday and they made people stay indoors, turn off air conditioning, seal up windows and so forth. It's better today and those restrictions are lifted.
  • Re: the megatsunami thing, the technical director of PEVOLCA says that seismicity patterns are those of a typical eruption. There is no surface seismicity. (More on landslides here; I think those rare Canary Island flank collapses in the past might have been rotational or translational -- anyway, you can see why they're carefully watching the surface, as well as the underground magmatic-related seismicity.)
  • Apparently the ridge fissure vents became a fumarole field, but they did recently see a new fumarole up there. Update: Nope -- I think. It's a new ash column on the north flank of the cone in Tacande. Dang, this eruption is still evolving.)
If anyone is working on comparisons with the 1971 eruption, here are the GVP's bulletins. Volcano monitoring has come a long way since then.

Also, you can see there that the Decade Volcano program in the 90s brought much needed attention to the Canaries, because of Teide and its associated structures.

Also, just for fun, here is just one of the theories about the origin of these islands, based on the Hawaiian-style "hot spot" idea (there are plenty of other plausible theories, because the Canaries are geologically peculiar).

It's in Spanish, but the graphic is self-explanatory.


The problem with that, as I understand it (and I'm only a layperson), is that there's no subduction zone off the coast of Africa for that crust under the islands to be moving into (the Hawaii-relevant part of the Pacific plate, OTOH, subducts under the Aleutians and the Kamchatka Peninsula).
 
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bjdeming

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CSIC in Barcelona and others have put together an ArcGIS source (Spanish) for reliable updates and information, in addition to official sources on social media.
 
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