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The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupts on La Palma after a week of earthquakes: the first Spanish eruption in 50 years

The intensification of geological activity on the island in recent years had indicated this and the earthquakes of the last few days made it clear that sooner or later it was going to happen. Finally, it has happened, Cumbre Vieja has erupted in the last few hours. It thus becomes the first volcano in Spain to erupt in the last five decades. Curiously, the last one to do it was the Teneguía just a few kilometers away.


Last Thursday the National Geographic Institute registered a deformation of 10 centimeters in the area. This was a clear indication that there was magma below the ground and about to rise to the surface. During this Sunday the deformation was already haha ​​15 centimeters. Besides that increasingly stronger and closer to the surface seismic movements began to be registered. It was a matter of time before it erupted.

And it has. The eruption began at 15:12 local time in the Canary Islands. It hasn’t stopped since and probably won’t for a while. The eruption began with an earthquake that was followed by a huge explosion and finally a plume of smoke. Two considerable fissures have appeared, which is where the lava comes out and flows down the slope of the volcano.

One detail to keep in mind is that it is not a single volcano as such. The rash is fissure, which means that the cracks have different points where lava, rocks and gases emanate. More will likely emerge in the next few hours or days. It is also expected that some points lose strength over time and end up closing, thus causing everything to come out of a single stronger point.

The area where the volcano has emerged is not inhabited, so no one has been affected. Nevertheless, authorities have started evacuating neighbors of the municipalities near the volcano and with the possibility of being affected by it. Around 10,000 residents are expected to have to be evacuated.

Half a century without an erupting volcano

Exactly 50 years have passed since we last had a terrestrial volcano erupt in Spain. It was the Teneguía in 1971 just about 12 kilometers away from Cumbre Vieja. Both volcanoes are located on the island of La Palma in Gran Canarias, one of the youngest volcanic islands in the archipelago. It is therefore natural to expect this type of eruption from time to time.

The particularity of the island La Palma is that it has two clearly differentiated areas. The northern part of the island is (geologically speaking) more mature, while the southern part is younger. This means that the northern part is more stable and is no longer affected as much by geological activities. The southern part is the most likely to eruptWell, it is still being formed. Hence, the current volcano, the Teneguía and many other previous ones erupted in the southern part.

Now it remains to be seen when the eruption ends. This is difficult to determine and the clues are generally in the historical background of the area. It may be a matter of days or it may be a matter of weeks. We will have to wait to see how the volcano evolves in the next few hours.

More information | IGN Spain
Image | @Civil Guard