The cooled lava has expanded Spain. – I hope that no restaurants are built there, says the volcanologist.
Liquid lava, toxic ash clouds, sporadic explosions and new eruptions.
In recent weeks there has been a volcanic drama on the island of La Palma, which belongs to the Canary Islands.
Around 800 buildings have been destroyed. More than 7,000 people have been or have been evacuated.
Recently, the lava reached the sea. Then something called “laze” is formed. This vapor can cause lung damage and irritation to the skin and eyes.
Now the lava has cooled and has become a new land. Therefore, Spain has gotten a bit bigger and La Palma has a longer coastline.
But what can this area be used for?
– It can be a nice tourist area, says Olivier Galland.
He is a volcano expert and researcher at the University of Oslo.
It will be hot for a long time
Now, however, people must stay away. Even if the lava begins to cool, it will remain hot for months to come.
By tourist area, Galland means an attraction. Like a small parking lot with a sign describing what happened there.
Much more cannot be used for decades. The uneven surface makes farming there, for example. Most of the people on La Palma make their living from agriculture.
– I hope no restaurants or other buildings are built there, he says.
Other places where lava creates new earth, it is not used. Galland points to eruptions in both Hawaii and La Reúnion Island.
– These are slow processes
The new area of Spain is basalt, the most common rock on Earth. This will break down over time, according to Galland. Ocean waves will destroy lava rocks into pebbles and eventually sand. Therefore, it will get smaller and smaller.
– Lava rock is not very solid, says Galland.
– However, it will take a long time. These are slow processes. We want to see little of it, and people don’t notice it, he says.
As the lava rock weathers, it will turn into dirt. So the vegetation can also grow on the new land area. But this will take a long time.
– It can be fruitful enough for agriculture. But I don’t know if we’ll ever see it in our lifetime, says Galland.
1 of 5Photo: Saul Santos, AP / NTB
People asked to stay home
However, the best use of its new peninsula is not the biggest headache of the day for the residents of La Palma.
Still, staying on the island is not entirely safe.
Thousands of people were recently asked to stay home, he writes Reuters. This is due to poor air quality as a result of new eruptions.
When incandescent lava is spit out, a black ash cloud forms in the sky.
Clouds contain sulfur gases. These go deep into the lungs and are very dangerous. Galland describes it as asbestos.
New Lava Rift Friday
Cumbre Vieja is the name of the volcanic ridge of La Palma. On Friday, even more lava began to flow from a newly opened crack.
It started to flow in a different direction than before and devours even more houses. This has created great discomfort.
– We have more drama ahead. There are more people to take care of, said Mariano Hernández Zapata at a press conference on Friday.
He is the head of the island’s local authorities.
Think the fish discovered the sprout first
– Now we understand. The fish must have marked the volcano, says the fisherman Nicolás San Luis to the newspaper El Mundo.
It’s not unthinkable, Frode Vikebø tells NRK. He is head of research at the Institute for Marine Research.
The eruption on La Palma began on September 19. For just over a week earlier, there had been seismic activity on the island.