Volcano in the Canaries: what are the health risks after contact of lava with the sea?

the essential The lava from the volcano which erupted ten days ago on the island of La Palma, in the Spanish Canary archipelago, has finally reached the ocean on Wednesday night 29 September, a phenomenon feared by experts, because it is potentially dangerous.

What was dreaded ended up happening. On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, the molten lava that has been escaping for ten days from the Cumbre Vieja volcano came into contact with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A potentially dangerous phenomenon. We are witnessing an interaction “between lava at more than 1 000 degrees and sea water at 20 degrees. This creates powerful columns of steam loaded with droplets of acid “, decrypts from La Dépêche du Midi volcanologist Ludovic Leduc .

Throughout the day, footage from Playa Nueva, on the west coast of the island, showed a torrent of incandescent lava plunging into the ocean from above. ‘a cliff of a hundred meters in the middle of gigantic plumes of steam. It is for this reason that the regional government of the Canaries has decreed an “exclusion radius of 2 nautical miles” around the place of arrival of the lava.

There will be no “damage in France”

The specialist wishes to reassure the French population: unlike the cloud of sulfur dioxide which had escaped from the volcano, the volcanic gases being formed will not cross the Pyrenees. “These gases will be diluted in the atmosphere without causing damage in France.”

In the Canaries, the scenario could unfortunately be quite different. “The hydrochloric acid present does not mass in these smoke columns can be responsible for acid rain”, explains Ludovic Leduc. However, he continues, “depending on their intensity, they can roast the vegetation and even affect the animals.” For the animals that would not have fled in untouched areas of La Palma, besides acid rain, the ingestion of ashes spread on the grasses can be fatal.

there any consequences on human beings? “For men, this atmosphere can cause breathing difficulties and skin irritation. If the consequences are not fatal, they will cause discomfort for the inhabitants.”

Air links reopened

However, in this gloomy picture, touches of hope exist. First, the direction of the wind which, for the time being, is driving these toxic clouds out to sea. In addition, “the lava now has an open channel to the ocean , a perfectly marked path through which it will go towards the sea “, explained David Calvo, the spokesperson for Involcan, in an interview with the Spanish national television TVE. However, this road towards the ocean” prevents that ‘There are new blockages, new lava dams “that would force it to spread laterally towards other areas, he added.

Other good news: air links with La Palma, which were interrupted due to security conditions deemed insufficient, resumed yesterday with the arrival of a first plane from the neighboring island of Tenerife.

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