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La Palma/Cumbre Vieja Volcano in the Canaries (1 Viewer)

bjdeming

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Tweeted about an hour ago:


Meanwhile, the overall situation about an hour ago from a Civil Guard drone. Radio Canarias tweeted a few minutes ago that explosive cone activity and tremor were picking up at the big cone, but they used images that an IGN source I follow tweeted earlier in the day to illustrate strombolian activity; he hasn't tweeted any more about it, so the salt shaker is in use on that particular item. Update about 2 p.m., Pacific: Put the salt shaker away: INVOLCAN confirmed it about 3 hours ago.

I hope it isn't picking up, anyway. IGN did tweet that there is no sign of diminution in either the eruption or the tremor.

 
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bjdeming

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About 5,000 people have been evacuated, per El Mundo, and the remaining banana crop is imperiled because lava has broken the irrigation system. Water quality south of the flow is problematical, too.

Devastating property loss, but no casualties yet. (That is an amazing emergency management success, especially on a small island, since volcanoes can end tens of thousands of lives very quickly, last time in 1985.)


Per El Mundo (browser translated), PEVOLCA said today:

The explosive activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano has increased, so the appearance of new emission centers is not ruled out, as can be seen from the opinion issued daily by the Scientific Committee of Pevolca.

The national head of volcanic surveillance of the IGN, Carmen López, has indicated that although the tremor activity is more intense, it has not yet reached the one that was registered between September 24 and 27.

López recalled that when that activity reached the maximum, there was a stoppage of the activity, because it did not allow more emission to leave, and the tremor decreased sharply and the system was opened based on a series of violent explosions.

However, he insisted that now the situation is not the same, because although the tremor is more intense and explosive activity has been recorded, it has not reached such high levels. In any case, he warned that this alternation of phases is within what is expected and in the coming days it could happen again.

Regarding the evolution of the volcanic eruption, Carmen López reported that the fissural eruption continues to show the strombolian mechanism and at the same time explosive and effusive phases are detected.

The new stream that appeared on October 1 continues to run westward, parallel to the flow that reaches the sea, having reached the previous stream at the height of the Los Campitos road and observing in the last hours a lower emission rate in relation to previous days.

In addition, there are several active centers inside the main crater and two located in the northwestern sector of the side of the cone. The extensive fumarolic field on the northwestern flank also continues.

This activity can destabilize the upper part of the cone, whose morphology changes repeatedly by the successive processes of growth and reconfiguration and currently the main cone is wider, lower and closed.

The [new lava delta] continues to increase its extension with four main feeding points. It also continues the marine plume along the edge of the lava delta, producing clouds of water vapor and hydrochloric acid that are concentrated in a small area around contact.

I came across the abstract of a paper about the 1949 eruption that describes the typical progress of a La Palma eruption, and that does appear to be what we're seeing now.
 
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bjdeming

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I haven't much idea of what's going on today, but clearly the eruption isn't ending -- various official comments via El Mundo and Twitter confirm that.

Authorities today in the tourism sector are stressing that La Palma is safe, the eruption covers only 8% of the island, and PLEASE come visit the Canaries. PEVOLCA's technical director echoed that, per El Mundo's coverage.

I get a sense, FWIW, that they want tourism -- of course! and especially with this economic blow -- but not volcano tourism.

"Come enjoy the Canaries on your winter vacation per usual and just ignore that little old erupting volcano over there" doesn't seem like a winning approach to me.

Maybe it's cold-hearted, but I'd exploit the 21st Century volcano tourism paradigm: "Winter on the beautiful Canary Islands, where it's always spring, as usual; and this year, we've also got volcano watching tours by sea and helicopter," i.e., focusing on the big lava delta and, if safe, the cone (not the tragic flows through towns), with proceeds of the tours going into a fund to help victims relocate and recover.

Science-wise, there were a number of quakes yesterday, located in the same area as earlier swarms, including high-end M3s. Some were at the same depth as the old swarms; a few were deeper. (Of note, the first petrology results show that lava is not coming from a deep source close to or in the mantle, as in Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula eruption, but comes from some more shallow chamber where magma has been sitting for thousands of years under the island, chemically evolving.)

Also yesterday, the eruption got more explosive and ashy, with occasionally some steam. Fountaining and other Strombolian activity continue, though. I'm guessing maybe the seismicity has opened some cracks that let a little ground water near the conduit. I've seen no informed or official comment on that aspect of it.

Today, per El Mundo (via browser translator,) they also announced that "scientists have detected the opening of a fissure zone about a hundred meters northeast of the main cone of the volcano with emission of gases and soil at high temperature that, in principle, has no eruptive character."

Again, multiple fissures and openings is how La Palma eruptions historically go.

At least severe weather, horrific as it can be sometimes, passes quickly. Eruptions take their time. And per El Mundo, some people on La Palma are now calling the smaller, more remote 1971 Teneguia eruption "friendly," compared to this.

Officially this is VEI 2, thus far. That was announced yesterday, too.

This was just tweeted; for Spanish-speakers, a review of the day's news at the link; for the rest of us, sunset and an erupting volcano! :cool:

 
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bjdeming

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That decades-old worst-case megatsunami paper and the public concern it engenders make this difficult to talk about, but the seismicity swarm continues.

Per El Mundo today at 17:45 (via browser translator -- their emphasis but I added a link so you can see the official reports as they go out; there are more than what's mentioned here):

The National Geographic Institute has recorded an earthquake of a magnitude of 3.8 southwest of the Villa de Mazo, on the island of La Palma,37 kilometers deep, according to reports.

The movement has occurred at 15.26 Canarian time and has been felt by the population, says the IGN in a statement.

This Thursday there have been other tremors in the same area, one of 4.3 also in the southwest of Villa de Mazo, 35 kilometers deep, registered at 12:17 pm, also felt by the population.

This earthquake has been followed by three others of magnitude 3.3, 3.4 and 3.3 located in the northeast of the municipality of Fuencaliente and at a depth ranging between 12 and 14 kilometers. So far this day there have been more than sixty seismic movements on the island.

In today's PEVOLCA press conference, they reportedly said that the island deformation isn't increasing, though (which would be a bad sign in terms of eruption potential).

Sulfur dioxide degassing isn't dropping, so this eruption likely is going to continue for a while (one of the lava streams split and formed a new delta today when the new flow reached the sea; more people had to be evacuated, too).

And no official or otherwise reliable sources that I follow are expressing concern about the seismicity. That may or may not be reassuring: nobody who is responsible is going to say anything publicly about what they don't yet have a scientific consensus on, especially at this particular volcano in light of the old hyperbolic media coverage 20 years ago.

Local media channels are following the swarm closely, of course, particularly after a stronger temblor, M4.3, hit the eastern side of the island, where some other swarm quakes appear to be happening, too. Good visuals in this short segment:


I'd love to know what's causing it.

  • Is the edifice adjusting to the changing mass distribution? (Probably.)
  • Is the seismicity uptick related to the change in eruption style, with more ash production? (Perhaps.)
  • Are ocean tidal movements more of a factor, now that the coastal configuration is changing, and quickly?
  • Other?
  • Let's grasp the nettle, too: Does this indicate any edifice instability?
 

bjdeming

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This is reassuring: a volcanologist's answer to someone asking about the La Palma quakes:

 

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Suddenly, a volcano inside city limits!


Yeah, it still goes on, and apparently will for some time, per volcanologists today. I haven't bothered reporting what are really just typical (but destructive and costly) volcanic events. No human casualties yet, fortunately.

There is a lot of continuing seismicity in two centers now, though:
  1. The one that "swarmed" before the eruption, which happened farther north, with the lava presumably traveling to the surface via dykes.
  2. A deeper one, to the south and east a little way from the first swarm, and almost 40 km down, that I understand to be the magma reservoir(s). This is where the strongest quake of the eruption thus far, an M4.4, happened today. Presumably the magma rises from there to the shallower focus, around 14-15 km below the surface, via dykes.
I don't know that persistent activity like this happens at Etna.

They say this is all very typical for La Palma eruptions, and also that deformation hasn't changed overall (I wish deflation, a sign of running out of magma, would happen!).

Don't understand that deep seismicity, when there's a wide-open channel to the surface, but then, as a layperson, I don't have to. Just guessing here: Maybe new magma has entered the system from below and melted some of the old, well-differentiated leftovers from previous events, releasing some volatiles but not enough to increase the deformation of the edifice dramatically. Those may be why the eruption has become more explosive.

Right now, this looks like it won't devastate distant regions, or even cause much long-distance trouble other than some sulfur odors, but it's worth keeping an eye on, just in case something (? what) changes.
 
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thundersnow

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Suddenly, a volcano inside city limits!


Yeah, it still goes on, and apparently will for some time, per volcanologists today. I haven't bothered reporting what are really just typical (but destructive and costly) volcanic events. No human casualties yet, fortunately.

There is a lot of continuing seismicity in two centers now, though:
  1. The one that "swarmed" before the eruption, which happened farther north, with the lava presumably traveling to the surface via dykes.
  2. A deeper one, to the south and east a little way from the first swarm, and almost 40 km down, that I understand to be the magma reservoir(s). This is where the strongest quake of the eruption thus far, an M4.4, happened today. Presumably the magma rises from there to the shallower focus, around 14-15 km below the surface, via dykes.
I don't know that persistent activity like this happens at Etna.

They say this is all very typical for La Palma eruptions, and also that deformation hasn't changed overall (I wish deflation, a sign of running out of magma, would happen!).

Don't understand that deep seismicity, when there's a wide-open channel to the surface, but then, as a layperson, I don't have to. Just guessing here: Maybe new magma has entered the system from below and melted some of the old, well-differentiated leftovers from previous events, releasing some volatiles but not enough to increase the deformation of the edifice dramatically. Those may be why the eruption has become more explosive.

Right now, this looks like it won't devastate distant regions, or even cause much long-distance trouble other than some sulfur odors, but it's worth keeping an eye on, just in case something (? what) changes.
That looks like a completely different background to the same foreground (from very close where each photo was made, it appears) in the supposed before and after in the gif.

It's so different, it looks altered.
 

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That looks like a completely different background to the same foreground (from very close where each photo was made, it appears) in the supposed before and after in the gif.

It's so different, it looks altered.
Yeah, it was: by the volcano.

The misty, cloudy weather at present behind those volcanic plumes (which sometimes flash lightning, even though this is an effusive eruption) isn't helping, either. But it's the same mountainside behind those clouds to anyone following things daily.

Itahiza, BTW, is associated with the IGN, though this apparently is his personal account. And he is prone, I've noticed (though not from personal experience ), to very occasionally but effectively launch tirades against tweeters who spread false news.

And now the volcano is apparently trying to repave the whole area. :(
 
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bjdeming

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A forecaster's worst dream happened today. Per El Mundo via browser translator (their emphasis):

16.39 LAVA FLOW OVERFLOWS THE MAIN CONE OF LA PALMA VOLCANO​

The lava flow has overflowed this noon the main cone of the volcano of La Palma. It happened around two and a quarter in the afternoon, island time; an hour later on the Peninsula.

This phenomenon has occurred, therefore, while the appearance of those responsible for the Volcanic Emergency Plan [PEVOLCA] was being held, who explained that the laundry that had forced the eviction of La Laguna had slowed its progress when reaching that population center.

This overflow has been recorded and disseminated by the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands.
I don't know more details right now. The fumes and weather obscure viewing.
Tweeted by INVOLCAN about an hour ago:

 

bjdeming

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Well, at the moment it seems to be doing its Strombolian thing. Maybe that was another partial cone collapse (it has already collapsed once -- the cinder cone inside El Paso, La Palma, city limits, that is, not the whole Cumbre Vieja edifice, which is only erupting in this one small fissure zone). That's not verified by officials yet, though.

 

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There it goes again; that's more lava, not a collapse. Not seeing much info from official sources I follow yet, but that's understandable. They're acting, presumably, not giving interviews or using social media.
 

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Okay, this is relevant: a query by Canarian volcano spotters several hours ago, per Google Translate and me, a little, followed by IGN's response.

Variation in [ground] deformation (elevation and displacement to the South) is confirmed in the stations near the volcano according to IGN.

The observables to date seem to indicate a readjustment of the system in depth and an overpressurization of the more superficial feeding system, but there is no surface seismicity outside the eruptive zone.

I had a bad feeling about that big quake yesterday. Still, overpressurization explains the increased flow, and lack of seismicity away from the eruption zone is very good news. And plumbing systems do constantly adjust themselves in response to magma movement.

Scary, when it's all underground where we can't watch it happen, but to this layperson, this looks like typical volcanism.

A horrible tragedy for western La Palma, though.
 

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The whole cone is in motion. No official word yet. There are a couple ships off shore -- hope they're not needed for evac but this looks awful.
 

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Per tweets, they've been bringing in soldiers, a few tens at a time, for a while. Research ships have been gathering, too. Hope this disaster was foreseen and they're now evacuating this whole sidd of the island. Air is useless, of course.
 

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Am trying to make sense of what the RTVC cam has shown, without finding any guidance from official sources on social media or via media like El Mundo.

The cone appeared to collapse into a new angle on the right, per cam view, and to drop on the far wall. There was first steam and then what looked like high ashy lava fountaining for a while beyond that far wall, while the fires in the newly configured open crater died out. Then this crater would fountain for a while, and tephra and fumes hid whatever was going on beyond the far wall.

Once there was a huge but low fountain burst along what had been the previous outflow channel (and apparently is again), but just the one at that location. In the last 20 minutes or so, it seems to me that either a small fissure line has opened up in the crater or the vent there is repositioning itself (I've read about that but don't know what it would look like IRL).

All this time, nothing about the crisis on 112 Canarias, Canarias Radio, or other official sources. There was news about sports results.

Yet I wasn't imagining it. The cam cut away a couple times, once showing a thick lava flow burying the soccer stadium north and east of the old crater and once showing another thick flow going through what appeared to be a densely built up but evacuated housing area.

At latest news report, the public employees' union announced that you don't need an appointment to visit its two offices. Very strange; I'm guessing authorities have sort of closed off La Palma to the world in important but not obvious ways while they deal with this emergency, and we'll find out what happened after the crisis passes.

Right now it looks like the cone might have stabilized, though daylight is almost gone. The fountaining in there does seem sheet-like, but the outflow channel seems to have resumed its course and pulses along with the Strombolian activity at the vent(s), nothing more.

There's haze beyond the far wall but no incandescent glow, so apparently the initial fissure line hasn't permanently reactivated.

But I think it briefly did -- am only a layperson -- and that the fissure line under this cone gaped briefly, too.

If so, that was one heckuva "adjustment"!

PS: They're showing a more distant view now, and there appears to be a new cone north of the main one, and not as tall. Well, in sum, the morphology has definitely changed, dramatically, and the changes might not be over yet, though it serms fairly quiet at present.
 
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Here's a space view, showing the steam and ashy fountaining today. That apparently wasn't the fissure line, then, but the tall cone, hidden in fumes from the transforming northern crater they were showing on the RTVC cam.

I see once again why eyewitness accounts of dramatic Earth processes are difficult to make objectively, especially when viewed indirectly through a lens.

If you watched those events live, bet the fact that they occurred on a sunny day surprises you, too. Volcanoes really darken things when they go off: another of their hazards.


 

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Yep. Here is an official update, too (link takes you to the Google Translate version).

This is a little embarassing. I really thought I was watching the apocalypse unfold, but after some time I went back in and checked sources that I knew would cover something major like a cone collapse (IGME, for instance, was out with their drones) and nobody mentioned it.

There were severe changes, I'm sure, as well as terrible damage, but the big cone didn't collapse, thankfully.

It's good to be wrong sometimes. I could take the easy way out and blame it on recent reading but it's better to accept it as a good lesson for an observer trying to be objective: what you see, either live or through a lens, is never the thing you fear -- usually it's something less terrible; sometimes it might be even worse; but it exists on its own terms, which are impersonal as well as observable.

Anyway, speaking of drones, there are some dogs trapped in a big water tank (empty) by the lava, and the air is too turbulent to use choppers. People have been using drones to bring the poor things food and water -- no images, because it's very sad -- and now, reportedly, they are going to try to rescue the dogs via drone. How, I don't know, but I hope they do.

No human casualties thus far. :)

That reading did show that the cone could collapse at some point, so maybe I was right about the troops and the boats. They all can do useful things in the absence of apocalypse, but there they are, if needed.
 

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