Volcano eruption in the Canaries: a toxic cloud will fly over the region

the essential The lava flow of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which erupted on Sunday in the Canaries, was only advancing slowly on Wednesday afternoon, but the concern is growing on a cloud of sulfur dioxide heading towards the Mediterranean…

The eruption of the volcano Cumbre Viejae on one of the islands of the archipelago Spanish Canary Islands, La Palma, last Sunday was a shock for this very touristy island. This volcano still monitored – since the end of the years 1971, seismic activity has been detected under the volcano – was, in fact, asleep since 27 years, the last eruption dating back to 11 November 1971 .

To read also: Canary Islands: why the Cumbre Vieja volcano woke up

This is to say the surprise that was that of the inhabitants, some of whom had only a few minutes to evacuate their homes according to the accounts. Like the seven previous eruptions seen since the Spanish colonization of the island in the 15th century, Sunday’s erupted with tephra fallout (the solid rock fragments expelled into the air) and a lava flow.

Le roi Felipe VI et la reine Letizia ont rencontré les secouristes et les habitants avec le chef du gouvernement Pedro Sanchez.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia met rescuers and residents with Head of Government Pedro Sanchez. MAXPPP – FRANCISCO GOMEZ / SPANISH ROYAL

According to the latest report provided by the European system of geospatial measurements Copernicus, 105 hectares of land and 320 buildings were destroyed by lava, including many homes. In total, Wednesday evening, 6 84 people had been evacuated since the start of the eruption, which has not, so far, been dead or injured. Among them were 320 tourists who were transferred to Tenerife , another island in the archipelago.

Eruption di Cumbre Vueja Eruption di Cumbre Vueja
Eruption di Cumbre Vueja AFP

The lava flow slows down

The damage caused by the eruption would already exceed 320 million euros according to initial estimates. Faced with this situation, the firefighters tried to deflect the lava flow of a good ten meters high entering the village of Todoque, one of those evacuated by the authorities and the last locality before the coast, located about 2 km as the crow flies. In vain. “Faced with the advancing lava we can’t do anything ”, conceded the president of the Canary Islands region, Ángel Víctor Torres, who hopes that the lava will stop on its own, its slowdown having accentuated to 1 meter per hour

La coulée de lave menaçant des habitations
The lava flow threatening homes AFPDDM – JOSE MARIA MONTESDEOCA

On the archipelago, everyone hopes that the lava will not reach the Atlantic Ocean, which would cause toxic gas emissions and projections.

If on this front, optimism is possible, on the other hand the concern is growing around the toxic cloud … A concern that goes far beyond the archipelago since this cloud is now heading towards the Mediterranean, Spain and France.

To read also: After the volcanic eruption in the Canaries, “the inhabitants face in the s erenity “

Monitored from Toulouse, a toxic cloud is heading towards the Mediterranean…

According to the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (Involcan), which estimates that the eruption of Cumbre Vieja could last “between 24 and 84 days ”, between 6 000 and 11 500 tonnes of Sulfur dioxide is spat out into the atmosphere every day by the volcano.

Le nuage formé par les rejets du volcan
The cloud formed by the discharges from the volcano AFPDDM – DESIREE MARTIN

“The plumes of aerosols from the eruptions continue to travel along e North Africa and Southern Europe. The latest Copernicus satellite measurements of SO2 concentrations in the atmosphere show that they will reach Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, including a large part of the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean coasts ”, announced yesterday the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) located in Toulouse, which monitors volcanic activity in a large area of ​​the world (Africa, Europe to India).

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Is this cloud dangerous? For now no. “Most of the SO2 emitted is found much higher in the atmosphere (between 853 and 2010 m altitude), in particular when moving away from the source ” , explained Mark Parrington, a scientist scientist from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

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