La Palma had been suffering seismic events for a few weeks, and scientists predicted it would result in an eruption on the island. That duly took place at around 3PM on a Sunday afternoon in late September, when there was an earthquake and an eruption started on Montaña Rajada. The eruption took place within metres of the spot volcanologists predicted.
The last eruption on La Palma was in 1971.
Spectacular images were broadcast around the world, showing lava flowing towards the ocean, crossing roads and engulfing some homes. There has been no loss of life, as inhabitants were evacuated from the area quickly.
What’s happened so far?
There have been small earthquakes around the island for a few weeks. A a fissure opened up which pushed smoke and gas into the air, and lava started to flow slowly toward the ocean.
The site of the eruption is a forested region, but the lava flowed in a path towards several small villages, so an initial evacuation of around 5,000 was quickly made. The lava engulfed one small village on the first evening, and crossed the main road in the area.
Overnight on the following day, a second fissure opened up, and lava could be seen flowing from eight different points in an area about 200 by 200 metres. 461 homes had been engulfed.
Flights to and from La Palma have been interrupted for short periods, but generally they are getting in and out as normal.
There was a brief respite on 27th September, when the volcano stopped erupting. But 24 hours later, both lava and smoke were once again flowing.
So far an area of around 860 hectares has been covered by lava, and more than 2000 buildings have been engulfed.
An exclusion zone of 2KM has been established and a total of seven roads have been cut off in the area.
Both the Spanish Prime Minister and The King and Queen of Spain have visited La Palma.
How long will it last?
Scientists have now been able to measure the lava reservoir and their estimation is that the eruption will last between 24 and 84 days.
The 1971 eruption on La Palma lasted 24 days.
How bad is it?
There has been no loss of life. People and farm animals have been evacuated. The volcanoes in The Canaries are the slow flowing “Hawaii” type, and even during the six years of eruptions in Timanfaya, no life was lost as people are able to walk faster than the lava flows.
The biggest loss so far is property, and the lava, although it flows slowly, is relentless, and nothing is able to stop it. Each flow consists of many tonnes of molten rock at well over 1000 degrees centigrade.
Will it affect Lanzarote or the other islands?
La Palma is the furthest island from Lanzarote, at around 400KM distance, so there has been no effect for this island, and we don’t expect it to affect us at all.
The ash cloud can be seen from the west coast of Tenerife, but the predominant wind here is blowing it away from the other islands. Barring a dramatic wind change, there shouldn’t be an issue with the ash cloud from La Palma.
The Tsunami Story
This one is already doing the rounds on social media. Rest assured there is no danger of a Tsunami.
The Canaries are a volcanic region and we have this type of event regularly. The most recent was on the island of El Hierro in 2011, and that one lasted for a few months.
It’s tragic for the people who have lost their homes, and all of Spain stands with them. But you can rest assured it won’t affect your holiday to Lanzarote
We’ll update all sections of this article as the news changes.