Drones, Aluminized Suits and Ash Sheets: Remnants of a Geological Adventure in La Palma

A year after the eruption of the La Palma volcano, there are three things that worry experts: when the neighbors will return to normal life, how the new terrain will behave and what can be learned from the data of the volcano, which has been erupting for 85 days and left so many records. This Monday, which coincides with the first anniversary of the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME-CSIC) opened an exhibition dedicated to the responses of scientists and emergency teams over almost three months. eruption.

Through 12 explanatory panels, the organizers provide details of how they want to look at the process of formation of the Canary Islands, in particular the volcanic history of La Palma and how the response works were carried out in Cumbre Vieja. “From a scientific point of view, it was important to know that this could happen and to explain its context,” said IGME-CSIC director Ana Maria Alonso Zarza.

In the showcases located on the first floor of the IGME headquarters, you can see drones, aluminum suits, accumulated ash sheets, lapis lazuli or notebooks in which geologists took the first notes of what they observed. The volcano released more than 200 million cubic meters of lava.

“We can’t stop the volcano, but we can respond,” said Raúl Pérez López, coordinator of the IGME-CSIC’s Emergency Response Unit, who spoke at the presentation of the exhibition about how it was 85 days, how much coordination was needed when. “Making decisions like evacuating 2,000 people” or giving them the impression of “walking into lava fields”.

Now is the time to return to normality, asked the geologist. “We have lava fields, volcanic vents, fumaroles, structures,” he enumerates. On the one hand, all these new formations must be protected; But on the other hand, “there are people who have lost everything and deserve to have what was theirs again.”

The most annoying gases on the ground. “The volcano deposited a large amount of magma underneath, which cooled and gasified,” explains Perez López. This gas, which does not have enough pressure to continue the eruption, is the reason why many residents of Puerto de Naos and La Bombilla do not survive, the expert explains. Although there is still movement of gases and liquids inside Cumbre Vieja, “these are different signals from the first ones that told us about the eruption.”

According to the researcher, studies are now focused on how the eruption in La Palma can be identified “in Tenerife, but also in other islands such as El Hierro or Lanzarote, which are active. Volcanism”.

“We work with uncertainties. We can never tell in four months, at four o’clock in the afternoon, that a volcano will erupt in a city like this, with this energy and this energy,” admits Perez López. “But we can see, based on what happened on La Palma, what can happen again on the island and, above all, how to understand the signals that can appear on Mount Teide or Lanzarote.”

The geologist is more pessimistic about the future of the land covered by the lava. “I hope they ask because we can give them information that will definitely be useful, but it’s still very difficult.” It will take a long time and it is very difficult. There is a lot of interest there,” Dychi said.


The exhibition “On the Volcano” can be seen from Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00 at the headquarters of the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain. Calle de Ríos Rosas, 23. Madrid (Madrid)

Source: El Diario

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