La Palma Evacuations After Eruptions

Audrey White, Sandscript Author

A volcanic eruption on Spain’s Canary island, La Palma, causes evacuation of four villages including El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane. Farm animals have also been evacuating the island. Situated off of Africa’s northwest coast, sits La Palma, the site of the volcanic eruption. La Palma has a population of roughly 85,000 and is one of eight volcanic islands in Spain’s Canary Islands.


The eruption began on Sunday, September 19th at 3:12 local time. Not only has the eruption led to evacuations, but could potentially pose a threat to La Palma’s population because of the creation of a chemical reaction caused by the lava, which can create explosions, as well as toxic gases when it meets the ocean. No casualties have been reported yet, however, the lava is advancing and swallowing farms, roads, and has consumed over 160 houses. In addition to the destruction, it has been recorded by the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute, that the eruption has emitted somewhere between 7,997 and 10,665 tons of sulphur dioxide. Rivers of lava reaching almost 20 feet high dominate the terrain. The volcano behind this ruin, Cumbre Vieja, erupted on Sunday, after gaining seismic activity for a period of a week. Canary Islands Volcanology Institute reported that the lava moved at 2,300 feet per hour. Four earthquakes have occurred on La Palma after the eruption. Prior to the eruption, a 4.2-magnitude quake was recorded. Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, canceled his trip to New York to visit the U.N. General Assembly and visited La Palma on Monday.


 Experts revealed that there is a possibility that the eruption could last for weeks. The last eruption on La Palma happened 50 years ago and lasted about three weeks. The last eruption on all the Canary Islands took place underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011 and lasted for five months. The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute explained the initial volcanic eruption that occurred on Sunday, took place towards the island’s southern end which last experienced an eruption in 1971. By Monday morning, more than 5,000 people had been evacuated. As of now, it is not believed that more evacuations are necessary.