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Volcano alert on the Canary Islands’ La Palma after almost a THOUSAND earthquakes are detected

Volcano alert on the Canary Islands’ La Palma after almost a THOUSAND earthquakes are detected around La Cumbre Vieja that last erupted 50 years ago

  • A surge of seismic activity and magma displacements has been registered
  • The strongest tremor of the current earthquake swarm has had a 3.4 magnitude
  • Cumbre Vieja is a dormant volcanic ridge that erupted twice in the 20th century 


Fears are growing over a volcano in the Canary Islands which last erupted 50 years ago after 1,000 tremors were registered in the past five days.

Experts have noticed an upsurge in seismic activity and magma displacements under the volcanic ridge of La Cumbre Vieja on the popular tourist hotspot of La Palma.

The strongest tremor of the latest earthquake swarm has had a magnitude of 3.4, the Involcan vulcanology institute said.

Experts have noticed an upsurge in seismic activity and magma displacements under the volcanic ridge of La Cumbre Vieja on La Palma

An earthquake swarm is a sequence of seismic events occurring in one place within a relatively short period of time.

‘An intensification of the type of seismic activity in the coming days cannot be ruled out,’ the institute said.

The Spanish government’s office in the Atlantic archipelago said the situation ‘could change quickly in the short term’ but stressed there was ‘no clear evidence that suggested an eruption was imminent’.

Cumbre Vieja is an active although dormant volcanic ridge in the south of La Palma that has erupted twice in the 20th century, first in 1949 then in 1971.

Five decades ago, the Teneguía volcano spat lava for more than three weeks. 

The authorities had on Tuesday raised the alert level from green to yellow, the second of four levels, in certain areas around the volcano.

It means civil protection officials must inform the public ‘to take precautions ahead of a possible volcanic eruption’, the Pevolca emergency plan says.

Involcan said all of the quakes had been shallow, and a ‘significant ground deformation’ as a result of ‘a small volume’ of new magma flowing into the reservoir underneath the volcano, which amounted to 11 million cubic metres.

‘Undoubtedly the current seismic swarm represents a significant change in the activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano and is related to a process of magmatic intrusion beneath the island of La Palma,’ it said.

Experts try to predict volcanic eruptions by analysing underground tremors near faultlines.

Eric Dunham, an associate professor of Stanford University’s School of Earth, energy and Environmental Sciences, said: ‘Volcanoes are complicated and there is currently no universally applicable means of predicting eruption. In all likelihood, there never will be.’

But there are indicators of increased volcanic activity, which researchers can use to help predict volcanic eruptions.

Researchers can track indicators such as volcanic infrasound, gas emissions, ground deformation and seismic activity.

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