The truce that last Monday gave the La Palma volcano it was seen and not seen. The laundry slowdown barely lasted a day until yesterday morning when the two branches located to the north were reactivated again, called by the Military Emergency Unit (UME) with the numbers 7 to the one that is a few meters from the sea and 8 to the one that is close to the urban area of La Laguna, who has been evicted for just over a week. The latter is of particular concern given its proximity to the aforementioned Llanense neighborhood and, above all, because of an overflow already classified as wash 10 that last night moved between Camino Cumplido and Camino Cruz Chica in the direction of the La Laguna School of Infant and Primary Education. The forecasts suggest that, if they follow their natural course, they would feed the first one on its way to the ocean.
The northern arm made significant progress in the first half of the day. This wash (8) had already managed to walk more than 300 meters between midnight and noon until it reached the LP-213 highway, which connects Los Llanos with Puerto Naos. The scientists carefully monitored this lava tongue to know if it followed the path marked by the orography, which would lead it to connect with the branch that is located about 100 meters from the cliff, or if, on the contrary, it crossed a trough to enter in the urban area of La Laguna, which last night was located just 140 meters from the lava. In this situation, the emergency teams decided to empty the three tanks of the Disa gas station that for weeks had contained the water used to degas them after removing the fuel. The tanks, with a capacity of 40,000 liters, can cause major explosions if they keep the liquid inside by acting as pressure cookers due to the heat given off by the ground.
The technical director of Pevolca, Miguel Angel MorcuendeOn this scenario, he pointed out that there are “a couple of troughs” that, according to forecasts, “can serve to channel that wash to the southwest.” This would lead to the aforementioned junction with wash 7 in its direction to the ocean, where a new fajana would be created and would force the confinement of the urban area of Tazacorte, as well as the neighborhoods of San Borondón, La Condesa, Marina Alta and Marina Baja. . Faced with this hypothesis, the students of the Juan XXIII and El Puerto schools keep their classes online due to the possibility of the formation of gases that are harmful to health.
Morcuende declared at the daily press conference held at the headquarters of the Cabildo of La Palma that this confluence of flows 7 and 8 would be the “ideal” since it would considerably reduce the destruction of new houses and agricultural plantations. The other hypothesis, which is introduced in the urban area of La Laguna, would be “the worst scenario”. Whether or not this assumption is fulfilled will have to do with the different overflows that are being produced above wash 8, such as the one that advanced between Camino Cumplido and Camino Cruz Chica and that, according to Morcuende, “is taking more strength”. “Depending on that course, we will have more or less damage,” said the technical director of Pevolca, who, in any case, stressed that no new evacuations are planned. This lava tongue (10) was the most active last night and at the end of this edition it was about 350 meters from the school.
On the other stream that advances to the south of the La Laguna mountain, the Pevolca reported that it had walked about 40 meters during the last 24 hours to be 120 meters from the cliff. With its more than probable arrival in the ocean, the confinement of the aforementioned towns in the municipality of Tazacorte would be ordered due to the risk that would entail the creation of hydrochloric acid columns and the generation of explosions when coming into contact with salt water. Given its slow progress, it was not expected that this event would take place during the last hours of yesterday.
Both Morcuende and María José Blanco, director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canary Islands, pointed out that the data obtained from the volcano is far from announcing that the eruptive process is in its final phase. Regarding sulfur dioxide, the technical director of Pevolca commented that the emission rate has been reduced in recent days, but “it is well above what could be the beginning of the end of the activity.” In addition, he pointed out that these records are “undervalued” due to logistics problems with the measurements. Blanco also made reference to a decrease in the power of the three mouths of the volcano, which yesterday emitted less ash. In this sense, he said that “it may be something ephemeral” and recalled what happened on September 27, when for a few hours there was a break in the tremor and visible signs on the surface “and it didn’t mean anything.” “Then there were more visible and explosive phases than the previous days,” he added.
Self-confinement in El Paso
The low quality of the air due to the gases expelled by the volcano, the haze and the sea breeze that blows towards the summit caused that during the day yesterday, for the second day in a row, residents of El Paso were asked to carry out a self-confinement in their homes between 12 noon and 9 pm. The low thermal inversion, located between 500 and 1,000 meters high, is the culprit that the gases do not advance in height and remain in the upper areas of the Aridane Valley. Morcuende once again emphasized that citizens who have to go out into the street should use fpp2 masks or with greater protection to the detriment of surgical ones. Blanco, for his part, pointed out that thermal inversion is expected to recover to its usual level at this time of year next Friday, which will lead to an improvement in air quality.
The Pevolca also made reference to seismicity, which decreased its activity during this Tuesday compared to last Monday. Thus, up to ten o’clock at night, about seventy earthquakes had been detected for the more than 90 from the day before yesterday. The most intense, which was felt throughout the island, had a magnitude of 4.5 degrees and 36 kilometers deep in the Mazo area. In any case, both the IGN and Pevolca stressed that these earthquakes fall within the normality of the eruptive process.
La Palma airport, for its part, recovered part of normality this Tuesday, especially during the second half of the day. The ash column allowed the operation of a large part of the scheduled flights, although some cancellations were repeated, although in smaller numbers compared to previous days. Weather forecasts are promising for the next few days, with the presence of the trade winds blowing from the northeast. Even so, the director of the IGN in the Canary Islands did not rule out that during the first hours of today the problems with the ash would be repeated, although she advanced that from then on the scenario is “more favorable.”
Regarding the total area destroyed by lava, Pevolca reported that it now amounts to 779.89 hectares, 16.57 more than last Monday; a figure that differs from that published by the European Copernicus system, which placed it at 811 hectares. Regarding crops, a total of 234 hectares have been affected, which represents an increase of 6.17. Of these, 133 belong to banana trees, 52 to vineyards and 17 to avocado trees, as detailed by Morcuende.