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What will happen when the lava from the La Palma volcano reaches the sea (and why is it so dangerous)?

More than 24 hours after the first eruption recorded on the Spanish island of The PalmIn the archipelago of the Canary Islands, the immediate danger to the local population seems to have ended. However, new risks accumulate as lava rivers advance towards the ocean, where it could generate new harmful phenomena.

According to the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands, the lava moves at about 700 meters per hour towards the waters of the Atlantic, so experts predict that it will reach the coast at dusk. At that time, the contact between the lava and the water could cause new explosions and clouds of acid vapor, according to an article by the AP agency.

The Spanish newspaper “La Vanguardia” specifies that this event is not yet clear if it will happen, since initially it was reported that the volcano had expelled 11 million cubic meters of lava, but then the President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, raised the figure to between 17 and 20 million cubic meters.

The media explains that the phenomenon is called “laze”, due to the fusion between the terms “lava” and “haze” (fog in English). The gases that it would produce, and that would be accompanied by hydrochloric acid and fragments of volcanic glass, can cause lung damage and irritation of the eyes and skin to people who come in contact with it, according to the United States Geological Survey.

However, the main damage will be to the flora and fauna of the area, the same article states. The population of La Palma is mainly dedicated to agriculture, so the impact of the phenomenon on the economy would be quite large.

Given this, the Spanish authorities have recommended that the population stay inside their homes, with the windows and doors closed. In addition, the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda urged the vessels in the area not to approach the places where the lava is likely to touch the water, adds “La Vanguardia”.

Experts have indicated that the eruptions on La Palma could last between weeks and months. The last one so far was recorded on Monday night, when lava began to emanate from a new fissure in the volcano.

The last time the La Palma volcano erupted was in 1951. At that time the phenomenon lasted more than three weeks. On the other hand, in 2011 the last eruption of the Canary archipelago was registered, it was underwater and it happened off the coast of the island of El Hierro. On that occasion the eruptions stopped after five months.


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