La Palma, Canary Islands: eruption Sep 2021 - updates

Updated: Oct 28, 2021 18:47 GMT -
On this page, updates on the new volcanic eruption, that followed a strong seismic crisis over 8 days on La Palma Island will be shown youngest first to oldest. More on La Palma volcano | Quakes under La Palma | Webcams La Palma | Photos of the eruption | Questions and Answers (FAQ)
Archived updates 13-26 Sep (seismic crisis and first week of eruption) | Archive 26 Sep - 16 Oct (week 2-3 of eruption)
See also: Info about the eruption from IGN | Live stream on TV La Palma


Updated lava flow field map

Update Wed 27 Oct 2021 08:21
Latest map of the area covered by lava flows as of 26 Oct morning (image: Copernicus EMS)
Latest map of the area covered by lava flows as of 26 Oct morning (image: Copernicus EMS)
The Rapid Mapping Team of the Copernicus project released the 34th update on the map of the area covered by new lava, totaling now 908.2 hectares as of 26 October at 07:08 UTC.
The good news is that the larger the lava field is, the more likely it is that new lava will rather be added on top of it instead of covering new areas. In fact, the activity at the sides of the lava flow field has slowed down; only about 1.9 hectares were covered by new lava flows and no new buildings damaged during a 24 hours interval.

La Palma volcano eruption update: strong activity this morning comes after uptick in earthquakes

Wed, 27 Oct 2021, 07:45
07:45 AM | BY: T
Intense activity at the La Palma volcano this morning (image: kimedia webcam)
Intense activity at the La Palma volcano this morning (image: kimedia webcam)
Quakes vs depth under La Palma during the past 7 days, showing the latest increase
Quakes vs depth under La Palma during the past 7 days, showing the latest increase
Current seismic signal LP01 station (image: IGN)
Current seismic signal LP01 station (image: IGN)
The activity at the vents has strongly increased this morning. Tall lava fountains, reported up to 600 m tall, rise from the main vent, while others produce dense ash and lava spattering. Lava can also be seen flowing on the surface away from the cone.
This seems to correlate with an increase of earthquakes in the last 24 hours, after having being reduced in numbers yesterday. There were 4 quakes between magnitudes 4.0-4.7 alone in addition to 130 ones at magnitudes around 2.5-3.9.
One of the magnitude 4 quakes occurred early this morning at shallow depth of 13 km, which is thought to be the main reservoir of the magma before it rises to the vents.
Quakes precede phases of intensification?
It seems that such upticks of quake activity precedes phases with increased lava supply several hours later. This might fit into the following model: first, magma pressure at depth increases either by surges from new magma arriving there or from temporary blockages in the paths above, preventing a sufficient release of it at the eruption; then, the pressure on the surrounding rocks create new cracks and paths, which shows up as quakes. 3rd, the magma then then rises through new and existing conduits until it reaches the surface hours later.

Latest lava flow map

Update Tue 26 Oct 2021 20:59
Lava flow map as of yesterday (not much change today; image: IGN)
Lava flow map as of yesterday (not much change today; image: IGN)

La Palma volcano eruption update: dramatic and rapid ground uplift, while surface activity calms down temporarily

Tue, 26 Oct 2021, 20:54
20:54 PM | BY: T
Lava fountain from the main vent at the La Palma eruption this evening (image: kimedia webcam)
Lava fountain from the main vent at the La Palma eruption this evening (image: kimedia webcam)
Ground deformation at LP03 and LP05 stations showing the uplift today (image: IGN)
Ground deformation at LP03 and LP05 stations showing the uplift today (image: IGN)
Current seismic signal LP01 station (image: IGN)
Current seismic signal LP01 station (image: IGN)
Numbers of daily quakes showing the marked decrease today (image: IGN)
Numbers of daily quakes showing the marked decrease today (image: IGN)
Compared to yesterday, the visible activity at the vents has decreased somewhat today. Only one of the vents seems now to produce pulsating lava fountains and an ash plume has been rising to approx. 2-2.5 kilometers today. Surface lava flow activity near the vents has decreased a lot as well.
Last evening, following hours of intense activity from at least four vents, parts of the western crater walls at the vents collapsed and gave way to short-lived floods of lava on the slopes of the cone. Whether or not the visible decrease is caused by a decrease of magma supply at the moment, remains unknown.
One factor to consider is that such larger re-configurations at the vent create new conditions so that the arriving magma might more easily find new ways to enter existing or create new tubes, and remain hidden from direct view.
However, it is likely that currently, indeed less magma is reaching the surface, but is this a sign the eruption might be waning? Likely not, unfortunately: instead of slowly deflating (as the magma chamber is being emptied by the eruption), the ground near the eruption site has been rising significantly again. And quite dramatically so. If the station LP3 has a correct measurement, the ground rose 10 cm (!) since yesterday. If that amount of inflation is caused by more magma arriving from depth into shallower reservoirs than what is erupting, it would fit the picture of less activity at the vents.
It also fits the observation that the volcanic tremor remains high, at similar levels as the past days, meaning that the system is still being supplied sign significant amounts of magma each day.

What is not easy to interpret in this model is that earthquakes have decreased significantly in numbers at the same time. Compared to the past days'average, less than half as many quakes occurred in the past 24 hours, "only" about one hundred... To add to all this, one of the strongest quakes so far at magnitude 4.8 or 4.9 occurred this afternoon at 5.25 p.m. at 40 km depth. It was widely felt on the whole island.

La Palma volcano eruption update: eruption with no end in sight, continues at high intensity

Mon, 25 Oct 2021, 21:25
21:25 PM | BY: T
Activity at La Palma today (image: 1-1-2 Canarias @112canarias / Twitter)
Activity at La Palma today (image: 1-1-2 Canarias @112canarias / Twitter)
Latest lava flow map (image: IGME)
Latest lava flow map (image: IGME)
Quakes vs depth under La Palma during the past 7 days
Quakes vs depth under La Palma during the past 7 days
Current seismic signal LP01 station (image: IGN)
Current seismic signal LP01 station (image: IGN)
The eruption continues with little changes, and remains very intense. The active cone shows strong explosive and effusive activity; in particular, the summit vents have been producing spectacular lava fountains and generate an ash plume that rose to 3,800 m this morning. Several surface lava flows have been observed flowing from the cone.
The mixed explosive-effusive activity paired with high rates of magma reaching the surface causes frequent small and sometimes larger changes of the geometric configuration at the growing cone, as rapid accumulation works against the forces of gravity, drag of material ejected and flowing away and parts that become undermined by formation of tubes etc.; currently, at least 4 or 5 vents are active aligned in a row, with different behavior as the magma pressure varies with the height of the vents themselves and the complex interactions of the rising gasses and the fluid magma in the conduits.
To get an impression, watch the activity at the vents filmed by drone from the government today:

Concerning the most significant instrumental data, there are no signs of a soon end in sight either. Instead, earthquakes have slowly increased not in size, but in numbers. During the past 24 hours, there were 103 quakes of magnitude 3.0-3.7 and 156 quakes between 2.0 and 3.0. The location remains the same as before,- most at around 12 km depth under the central part of Cumbre Vieja and a few ones in the deeper layer around 35 km depth.
Ground deformation also suggests that magma pressure from below is stable, with no clear trend. This suggests that there is still supply of magma from deeper sources to balance the erupting volumes, or, in other words, the eruption is at an equilibrium and might go on for a while still.

Quakes at La Palma are NOT artificial! (and the island is not "under attack")

Update Sun 24 Oct 2021 23:27
Quakes on La Palma apparently arranged on a grid - this is due to the rounding of latitude / longitude values (image: EMSC)
Quakes on La Palma apparently arranged on a grid - this is due to the rounding of latitude / longitude values (image: EMSC)
Unfortunately, there are currently articles going around in the net that misinterpret plotted quake epicenter data for recent quakes at La Palma. One should understand that reported quake locations are necessarily rounded values and if plotted on maps, are arranged on a grid, reflecting simply the margin of error of measurements, normally the size of the last digit after the decimal - if rounded to 2 digits in latitude / longitude, it is an approx. 1 km resolution in this case.
Read more about this artifact!

Add-on: the island is "not under attack" by any strange forces; nor it is by any significant likelihood going to collapse and produce a "mega tsunami" to devastate the US east coast. This scenario is so extremely unlikely that it is not worth any headlines, but unfortunately enjoys lots of media attention who seek sensationalism.
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