The fall of the lava from the new volcano of La Palma into the sea will initially negatively affect the marine flora and fauna, but in the long run its impact will be enriching, and the gases that are emitted in contact with sea water are not a danger, according to the CSIC volcanologist Joan Martí.
Director of the CSIC’s Geosciences Barcelona group, Martí indicates that the normal thing is that, as happened with the underwater eruption that took place in El Hierro in 2011, the entry of lava into the marine ecosystem causes a significant and negative impact, since material is introduced at a very high temperature.
Chemical elements that are not in balance are also introduced into the system, so the immediate impact will be negative, but, in the long run, the ecosystem will reproduce and enrich much more than it was, has pointed out Joan Martí.
Therefore, the consequences in the medium and long term will be positive, as they have been in El Hierro, he added. Regarding the delta that lava is forming on the coast of Tazacorte, Joan Martí has commented that the island will grow “a little”, but a new island will not be made.
Regarding the gases that are given off when the lava and sea water come into contact, the director of the Geosciences group of Barcelona has stated that basically it is water vapor and some gases that are formed by reaction.
But their amounts are small and will spread “very quickly”, so the affection of these gases will be “very local” and there will be no problems if the authorities’ recommendations are followed, Martí added.
More than 650 houses destroyed
The arrival of the lava flow to the waters that surround the island of La Palma is forming a dense cloud of water vapor and some gases that do not represent a danger to health and is also creating a delta that “little by little gains ground to the sea”.
According to the latest count from the European Copernicus satellite system, lava from the volcano has so far affected 744 buildings, of which 656 are destroyed, and has covered an area of 267.5 hectares, while the kilometers of roads affected reach 23.1, of which 21.5 are destroyed.
The experts have advised the residents of the towns near the Tazacorte area to take extreme precautionary measures and remain confined to their homes, where it is recommended to close doors and windows to prevent the entry of gases from the outside.
Along the same lines, the Cabildo de La Palma has recommended to confined residents that they stay outside the exclusion zone and has added that access to evacuated areas will not be allowed.
Since its entry into the sea, before midnight on Tuesday, the lava is forming a delta on the coast of Tazacorte that “little by little gains ground” to the marine waters, has advanced the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO).
In a radio interview, the Canarian president, Ángel Víctor Torres, said that he hopes that the lava flow will stop spreading, given the devastating effect it has had on homes and farms, after the opening of the channel that directs it to the sea, where it continues to flow “normally“.
For his part, the President of the Government Pedro Sánchez has announced that he will visit the island again, although he has not specified a date, hours after the Council of Ministers declared La Palma catastrophic zone and approve an aid of 10.5 million euros.
Sánchez has assured that the three administrations will start working to approve as soon as possible a royal decree law “with much more aid” for the palm trees. This morning the island corporation of La Palma has indicated that the irrigation operation for farmers with farms in Puerto Naos, El Remo and Las Hoyas is paralyzed.>
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