La fajana, about to enter deep waters with risk of collapse


La Palma's Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to expel large amounts of lava.

La Palma’s Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to expel large amounts of lava.
Efe / Carlos de Saa

The fajana that began to form on the coast of La Palma on September 28 is in danger of collapse. If the lava emanating from the volcano of the Cumbre Vieja continues to advance towards deeper levels of the Atlantic Ocean could produce a collapse in the front of the delta, which would be accompanied by the sudden release of gases, with hydromagmatic explosions and waves. The fajana, which already occupies about 40 hectares and continues to feed from various lobes of the stream, has reached the limit of the insular platform, so it is likely that as it continues on its way it will lose the base on which it is expanding. Just over a kilometer from the new lava delta, magmatic material is being deposited that runs parallel to the main stream and falls on El Charcón, in the fajana that was formed in 1949 with the eruption of the San Juan volcano.

The inscrutable advance of the lava tongues has devastated 471.8 hectares of the west face of La Palma, which represents 0.66% of the island’s surface. As the stream branched off the southern flank of the Todoque mountain, the volcanic fluid moved swiftly toward the shoreline and in just 24 hours it devoured 40.6 hectares. According to the technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende, the main language “is filling gaps and looking for small basins”, so it is not ruled out that the magma ends up covering the surface that separates it from the appendix. The new route that the lava has taken has particularly affected the agricultural estates in the area. The latest measurements indicate that there are 120 hectares of crops affected, of which 59.39 are banana trees, 33.43 vineyards and 7.36 avocados. The island’s road network has also suffered numerous damages, since 26.4 kilometers of road have been under lava, of which 5.6 are in the municipality of El Paso, 17.1 in Los Llanos and 3.7 in Tazacorte. The number of buildings has not been updated since Wednesday, with which the Pevolca continues to count 605 houses and 58 buried agricultural farms.

Seismicity has increased, both in the amount of tremors observed and in their intensity. Since the Cabeza de Vaca volcano stopped roaring for a few hours on September 27, the magmatic activity under the ground has been revived south of La Palma, in the municipalities of Fuencaliente and Villa de Mazo, where the population has been able to feel numerous tremors. It was precisely in these localities that the seismic swarm began to be perceived on September 11 and 12, which heralded an imminent volcanic eruption. However, the depth of seismic activity remains between 10 and 15 kilometers. This data, added to the fact that no deformations have been detected in the ground and that the volcanic section is at stable and medium-low values, indicates that the possibilities of generating a new eruptive center away from the environment of the main cone are very scarce. , as detailed by the Pevolca spokesmen.

Throughout the day there have been dozens of shocks, the largest was 3.9 degrees

Throughout the day there have been dozens of shocks on La Palma. The highest magnitude was 3.9 degrees and had its epicenter in Villa de Mazo, where the population could feel it at 13.46 hours with an intensity of III, on a scale of XII degrees. Tomorrow the local authorities and those responsible for security will hold a meeting with the neighbors of the two municipalities affected by the earthquakes in the south of the island, with the aim of preparing them for a possible evacuation, as well as reassuring them because in the current scenario the probability of a new broadcasting station emerging is almost nil.

The fissure eruptive episode maintains the Strombolian mechanism common in the Canary Islands, which alternate effusive phases, in which large amounts of magma erupt, and explosive phases of medium or moderate intensity. According to the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), the Palmero volcano is located at level 2, within a maximum scale of 8. The regional director of the Spanish Geographical Institute (IGN) and spokesperson for Pevolca, María José Blanco pointed out that three emission centers are still active in the main cone and one on the north side, although there is no “evidence” that another may be generated away from the main focus.

Atmospheric conditions, as Blanco warned, are unfavorable for air quality, which remains “fair”, although the forecast is that an improvement will be perceived as of tomorrow because the wind will turn to the north component between 1,500 and 5,000 meters and an elevation of the thermal inversion will be registered, which in the last hours has remained at 700 meters. Until this relief occurs, the ash plume and sulfur dioxide (SO2) could affect the Canary Islands airports in the western province. The SO2 emissions that are produced from the Cumbre Vieja volcano reach 4,994 tons per day and the diffuse emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) reaches 1,668 tons each day.

Due to the fact that the air quality in the Aridane Valley is “regular”, because specific peaks have been registered in which the alert levels of SO2 that have already remitted have been exceeded, the population of this area can lead a normal life, But it is recommended that those who suffer from lung or bronchial diseases, asthma, heart problems, pregnant women and young children, go outside for as little time as possible and are always protected with FFP2 type masks. Those responsible for Pevolca recalled that the ash cleaning It should never be done with blowers, to avoid putting the particles in suspension, and if large quantities are handled, they recommend dampening them slightly before handling them.

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