May 23, 2022
Cumbre Vieja erupting on La Palma Island

Mt. Cumbre Vieja, located on La Palma, a Spain governed island of the Canary Islands, has erupting, and been erupting since the 19th of September. The trouble began on the 11th, when an earthquake swarm started. An eathquake swarm is a collection of many earthquakes in a nearby area around the time time. In only a week, more than 22,000 earthquakes shook the earth around Mt. Cumbre Vieja.

An animation of the earthquake swarm, source

On the 13th, a volcanic activity warning was issued to the island, leading to the evacuation of about 40 people and some livestock, despite the warning covering an area containing around 35,000 people

Then, on the 19th of September, at around 3:15pm local time, Cumbre Vieja erupted in Cabeza de Vaca, a forested area of Montaña Rajada. Soon, around 300 people evacuated. Due to the possibility of lava flowing to the coastal regions of Los Llanos de Aridane, which could cut off major roads, 700 people evacuated. About 500 of these people were tourists. As of now, a total of evacuees is between 5,000 and 10,000.

A map of La Palma

The eruption has destroyed over 900 buildings, causing schools, churches and other such places to close down. A large amount of people have been evacuated, affecting their lives. Banana farms, a major income source of the island, have been damaged, posing a threat for the economy.

Cumbre Vieja began as a purely effusive eruption, meaning that the volcano simply releases lava for it to slowly travel across land. This meat the volcano had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 0 out of 7. However, soon the volcano begun to release ash, rising the VEI to 2. The volcano erupts lava and ash from at least 5 main vents, which are ruptures in the earth.

Cumbre Vieja has erupted seven other times, at least in recorded history. These happened in 1470, 1585, 1646, 1677, 1712, 1949 and 1971. The most recent, the 1971 Tenguía eruption, had only caused some minor property damage and asphyxiated a photographer.

A picture of the eruption from a distance

The Cumbre Vieja eruption has disrupted many people’s lives, through causing a path of destruction. The destruction is still ongoing. Volcanos are a violent force of nature that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and yet humans still find ways to live around them.