News from Spain: Holiday hotspot risks volcanic eruption – yellow warning issued after tremors | World

News from Spain: Holiday hotspot risks volcanic eruption – yellow warning issued after tremors | World

The government of the Canary Islands has activated the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Attention to Volcanic Hazardous Emergencies (PEVOLCA) in the region of Cumbre Vieja (La Palma) due to the increase in seismic activity recorded in recent days .

As reported by the Spanish Ministry of Public Administration, Justice and Security, the decision was adopted by the PEVOLCA Scientific Committee meeting on Monday to assess the situation.
More specifically, the alert plan was activated for Fuencaliente, Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso and Mazo, causing the traffic light to change from green to yellow for these municipalities.

Officials say the “highest levels of helium-3 detected in 30 years” in the volcanic ridge were a detonator.

Cumbre Vieja, Spanish for Old Summit, is an active but dormant volcanic ridge on the volcanic oceanic island of La Palma in the Canary Islands that erupted twice in the 20th century – in 1949 and again in 1971.

Experts insist the chances of an eruption that would put the local population at risk are slim.
Nemesio Perez, director of the Canary Islands Institute of Volcanology (INVOLCAN), said yesterday / Monday as he assured locals and holidaymakers that they could go about their daily business: “In 80% of cases, these processes remain underground and do not cause a volcanic eruption.

He added: “We are moving from a situation of normality to a situation of alert.

“We recognize a change in seismic activity and recommend that the population pay attention to the information issued by the authorities. “

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Mr Perez also explained the three factors that played a role in the decision to switch from green to yellow, saying they included the increase in the number of tremors and the fact that they were occurring closer to the surface of earth averages about seven miles underground instead of 12.

In a social media post, INVOLCAN said: “In recent years, the Cumbre Vieja volcano has seen 10 earthquake swarms, including the one that started on Saturday.

“There is no doubt that the current swarm represents a significant change in activity. “

The yellow alert is not meant to imply an increased risk to the local population, but involves “intensification of information and monitoring levels and increased monitoring of volcanic and seismic activity”.

Seismic activity in the south of the island of La Palma has been “abnormal” since 2017, with eight earthquake swarms recorded since summer 2020.

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The last swarm started just after 4 a.m. local time on Saturday.

La Palma is one of the westernmost and youngest islands in the Canary Islands archipelago along with El Hierro.

La Palma is said to be at risk of a major landslide that could cause a tsunami in the Atlantic Ocean.

A 2001 research paper claimed that a change in the eruptive activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano and that a fracture on the volcano that formed during the 1949 eruption could be the prelude to a giant collapse.

Authors Steven N Ward and Simon Day estimated that such a collapse could trigger tsunamis across the North Atlantic and have serious repercussions in countries as far away as North America.

Subsequent research debated whether the tsunami would still have a significant size away from La Palma and whether the collapse is likely to occur in a single failure, with evidence indicating that most collapses in the Canary Islands have taken place as multi-stage events which are not as effective in creating tsunamis.

The volcano at the center of the new alert rises approximately 1.2 miles above sea level and 3.7 miles above the seabed.

It is described as the fastest growing volcano in the archipelago and therefore dangerous in terms of collapses and landslides.

La Palma’s total population at the end of 2020 was just over 85,000, with almost 16,000 registered as living in the capital Santa Cruz de la Palma and over 20,000 in Los Llanos de Aridane.

It is nicknamed La Isla Bonita, the pretty island in Spanish, because of its incredible landscapes, towering volcanoes, dense forests and unique beaches.

Tourists are drawn to the island by its hiking trails, food, beaches with crystal clear waters, beautiful night sky, and pleasant temperatures all year round.

Additional reporting by Natalia Penza


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