Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma has become quiet as constant tremors have stopped, though experts warned that this does not necessarily mean the eruption is about to end after 85 days.

Seismic activity stopped largely around noon. 21:00 local time on Monday, said the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute, Involcan.

It is the longest period without tremors since the eruption began.

“This does not mean that the eruption will end as stoppages on other occasions were followed by a renewed increase in activity,” Involcan tweeted.

It added footage of Cumbre Vieja showing how the volcano’s almost constant roar had ceased.

“The eruption activity has dropped to a point where it has almost disappeared,” said Miguel Angel Morcuende, chair of the Pevolca Outbreak Response Committee.

The eruption, which has sent rivers of molten lava running down the slopes of Cumbre Vieja for weeks, is the longest on the Spanish Canary Island since records began in 1500.

The silence Monday night and Tuesday morning followed the release of dense toxic clouds of sulfur dioxide Monday morning, leading to the shutdown of about a third of the island’s population.

A wave of lava flies up into the air while people in high-vis vests watch.
The Canary Islands eruption has become a magnet for scientists who want to know more about volcanoes.(AP: Taner Orribo)

Eruptions enter another phase

Since the outbreak began on September 19, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, at least 2,910 buildings have been destroyed, and the island’s main livelihood, banana plantations, have been destroyed.

Stavros Meletlidis, a volcanologist at the National Geographic Institute, said there were several possible explanations.

About a week after the eruption started, the seismic activity suddenly dropped for several hours before starting again with renewed force, a pattern that is not uncommon in the early stages of an eruption, he said.

However, after almost three months of activity, the eruption is in another phase and may be losing strength.

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“The magma needs energy to get to the surface, and it seems that it does not have it at the moment,” said Mr Meletlidis, explaining that it could be due to a drop in the level of gases or magma volume when the eruption loses power.

However, it may be the result of a blockage between underground magma chambers and the surface vent, in which case the pressure will continue to build up until it reaches critical mass and causes new explosions.

“It is too early to say whether we are entering a terminal phase,” Mr Meletlidis said.

Before declaring the eruption finally complete, the researchers will look for a period of at least 48 hours without seismic activity or surface eruptions, he added.

Reuters

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