After the eruption of Gumbre Viza volcano on the island nine days ago PalmIn the Canary Islands (Spain), hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands forced to evacuate, with officials’ concerns centered on the volcanic eruption coming into the sea this Tuesday.
For this reason, serious precautionary measures are being taken and the perimeter of the beach is being widened to prevent people from approaching the shore.
According to officials at the Canary Islands Volcano Emergency Project (BOLCA), the main cause is the chemical reaction that occurs when the volcano comes in contact with salt water.
“When the magma touches the ocean, large columns Water vapor Because most of the seawater evaporates. This is due to the large temperature difference between the two: laundry has a temperature of over 900 C, while water has a temperature of 23 ° C, explains Jose Mangas, professor of geography at the University of Los Palmas, to the BBC.
“But because water contains chlorides, sulfates, carbonates, fluorine and iodine (among others), they are volatile. Toxic gases”, Says the educator.
These gases can cause Irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.
Mangas exemplify what is happening in the vicinity of volcanoes in Hawaii.
“When you approach the part of the ocean where the liquid volcano falls – the part where the fence is set up – there you are Itching of the nose and throat Because you breathe gases that evaporate from seawater containing chlorine and sulfates … “.
They are temporary exhaust gases a Unpleasant odor In the most intimate areas.
On the other hand, when laundry cools rapidly in contact with water, “volcanic fracture, and it can produce discharge Projectiles Ballistics and output in relatively close range (Toxic) gas is volcanic Hector Lamolda Artis, a geological engineer at the National Institute of Geography and professor of mathematics at the University of Madrid Complutons, tells BBC Mundo.
The gases generated in these two processes are pushed into the ocean by the wind, and in the current weather conditions, even if conditions change, they will scatter in the air for a while, Lamolda says.
Both scientists agree that defining the perimeter near the affected area is sufficient to control the risk.
Toxic gases emitted in the open atmosphere, in an apparently restricted, confined and confined space, They should not pose a great risk, Because no one should be there when it happens, Lamolda adds.
Other hazards associated with the arrival of magma at sea are, according to the United States Geological Survey, unrelated to the case of the Gumbre Viza volcano in La Palma, which is the sudden collapse of coastal land and rocks. , Eruptions triggered by this collapse and the waves of boiling water that form around it.
Even if the situation is under control now, everything may change as the days go by.
“We are just beginning, these are the early stages of the eruption, and there is still a long way to go,” Mangas warns.
“A Strombolian eruption Two days are nothing, as they are now in La Palma, because in the historical eruptions we have here from the 15th century to the present, they have lasted. One, two or three months”.
Strombolian eruptions – named for the Stromboli volcano in Italy – are relatively mild and can last from seconds to several hours.
Although this is just the beginning, the manga makes it clear that what has happened so far is devastating.
“There are significant material losses, about 200 houses were destroyed and they cannot be recovered because the power and energy of the volcanoes completely destroyed them. 200 families are left homeless,” he stressed.
On the other hand, the wash on its voyage has already reached four highways, cutting off the link in that part of the island from north to south.
“Pipes are provided several times in connection with these roads Running water For homes, and because the temperature of the lava is so high, many will melt and affect distribution ”.
Power poles, power and telephone cables were also damaged. “Agriculture and livestock have also been severely affected,” he says.
“From a human point of view this is a disaster.”