This page contains the posts and updates from the first 40 days of the eruption. Subsequent daily posts and updates are posted HERE.

  • Spanish Government free telephone helpline for anyone affected by the La Palma eruption – 900 222 665
  • Spanish Government insurance compensation consortium –
  • To help, food and clothes aren’t needed but monetary donations are welcome and can be sent by Bizum (mobile bank apps might need latest update) – use code 03747. Or make an e-transfer to account ES47 2100 9169 0122 0017 9456 quoting reference Donación volcán. More info on this from La Palma Cabildo HERE.

Photo: Untouched image of the Cumbre Vieja eruption with the montaña de La Laguna in the foreground at 7.50pm, Saturday 23 October. GE Volcan.

Updated 5pm, 28/10: It can feel very far away, very bland, especially when it goes through a rather quieter phase, as it’s doing this afternoon. I took a photo of the column of smoke as it is today looking towards La Palma from just above the TF1 roundabout junction for the new Fonsalia spur road … it all looks fluffy and white and gentle. It isn’t.

Updated 28 October – Eruption Day 40: Forty days and nights in the wilderness, wasn’t it? And here we are. Day 40, with a new rupture of the main cone, continued lava flowng towards the west, and increasing concern about the values of SO2 which oscillate between 6,000 and 9,000 tonnes per day in the volcanic plume. The number of earthquakes over i3.5 has increased yet again in the last few hours, and since seismologists are registering these at depths of over 20km as well as at medium levels, they consider this increases the odds of an i6 earthquake. The advice on what to do to stay safe in earthquakes has been repeated with emphasis on the public’s need for self-protection. Worrying hours.

Updated 4pm, 27/10: This morning’s double shock was repeated with bells on at 3.21 this afternoon as an earthquake of i4.8 (I’ll adopt this style now for “magnitude” because it’s Intensity they’re referencing, so it’s an “i” size) occurred simultaneously with one of 4.5, both at 37km depth, one in Mazo to the east of Cumbre Vieja and the other in Fuencaliente to its south. They were followed within minutes by an i3.8 at 14km, again in Mazo. There are others of lesser intensities right now too. La Palma is vibrating this afternoon, and how.

Updated 2.30pm, 27/10: Volcanologists have added to their explanation about magnitudes of earthquakes. As we have been advised, they no longer use the Richter scale but deal in Intensities rather than Magnitudes, though these are relatively similar, in effect at least. Nonetheless, we are now taught that whereas Magnitude is the measure of the seismic energy released in an earthquake, Intensity is the assessment of its destructive power, the damage it can cause to infrastructure, buildings, etc., as well as its ability to be sensed by people. Volcanologists and seismologists repeat this afternoon that La Palma can expect earthquakes of Intensity 6 in the not too distant future.

Updated 2pm, 27/10: There’s widespread bemusement, and even more widely spread mockery, this lunchtime at the suggestion on the radio this morning by no less than the President of La Gomera, Casimiro Curbelo, that someone could fly a plane over the volcano and drop a bomb on it, to guide the lava in a particular direction. Curbelo continued that perhaps he was talking nonsense but that it should be tested from a technological perspective. “Perhaps talking nonsense” is the least of the reaction to his words! Some on twitter are bewailing that “this is the level of politics we have here” while others are more personal: local biodiversity specialist Adrian Flores has advised all his followers who aren’t Canarians that “aquí sabemos desde hace tiempo que a Casimiro Curbelo no hay que hacerle caso” – here in La Gomera we’ve known for ages that Casimiro Curbelo should be ignored … . Perhaps he’s been bingeing on The Dam Busters.

Updated 27 October – Eruption Day 39: It’s been a bit of a shaky night throughout the Canaries with widespread reports of tremors felt by the public. Around 10.30pm, IGN reported an m4.1 in west Tenerife: it was felt in my own house but it was reclassified and relocated as an m3 in La Palma … but something was felt in the medianías in west Tenerife at precisely that time. Something was felt here around 1am as well, but the most significant incident was an m4.2 at 7.19 this morning at a depth of 38km under Cumbre Vieja followed almost immediately by an even larger aftershock of 4.6. This morning, strong emission of ash and especially lava continues, particularly from the secondary vent, while seismic activity is also ongoing. It’s understandable that this morning people are beginning to question and wonder what is going to come next.

Updated 9pm, 26/10: And tonight there is a lava fountain. To a height of 600m … !

Updated 6pm, 26/10: An m4.9 earthquake around 5.30pm in La Palma has been widely felt throughout Tenerife, especially north of a line between Güímar and Puerto Santiago. Larger earthquakes are anticipated, as I’ve said in recent days. It was at a depth of 34km.

Updated 26 October – Eruption Day 38: Today is the 50th anniversary of the start of the previous major eruption in La Palma, that of Teneguía in 1971 in the Fuencaliente municipio in the far south. That one was a phenomenon for the island and lasted until 18 November, causing the death of someone who was fishing and who is thought to have been killed by the gas, just like Pliny the Elder at Vesuvius. Although this eruption has mercifully managed to avoid any human casualities, it’s fair to say that it has already completely eclipsed the Teneguía eruption which is generally known as a gentle, friendly one … as eruptions go! Today has been less explosive than yesterday’s show and a half but there is a new 10cm deformation southwards in the Cumbre Vieja terrain which could suggest a forthcoming increase in the lava channel or the opening or closing of a vent as has happened with previous deformations, always in the exclusion zone. Literally living under a cloud, those poor people.

Updated 5.30pm, 25/10: They say a picture’s worth a thousand words … you can write your own essay on this photo. This afternoon Clio and I discussed the eruption on our latest CanaryCast (see page link in the little menu on the right). As we said then, we aren’t suffering with La Palma but we are feeling for them there, and encouraging them to keep their chin up … ánimo, as they say here. This photo shows why that’s perhaps all the more needed tonight: it’s genuine and untouched, from emergency services info sources. Ánimo La Palma.

Photo: Incendios, Alertas y Emergencias en Canariasv

Updated 4pm, 25/10: After a great deal of violent explosive activity this lunchtime, a new vent has opened on one of the main cone flanks. It’s fountaining lava and sending forth streams in various unpredictable ways causing clear alarm fairly widely. Below are the scenes from shortly before 3pm this afternoon.

Updated 25 October – Eruption Day 37: Last night registered nearly 300 earthquakes, four of them over m4 and this morning the volcanic tremor has increased considerably. Another part of the cone has collapsed leading to further coladas which are moving slowly but causing significant concern about the direction they are still to determine to take. The eruption continues today with large emission of gas, ash and lava. This is the 4km high cloud it’s causing. It feels like waiting for something …

Updated 10pm, 24/10: A speeded-up, two-second clip … but it gives the whole picture of what it’s like in La Palma tonight. Imagine this in Tenerife …

Updated 24 October – Eruption Day 36: At the moment, seismicity is strong, ongoing and stable, no major earthquakes to record but plenty in the m3-4 range overnight. Around 11.40pm we ourselves felt a rumbling tremor at the time IGN says an m3.4 was recorded in Fuencaliente, La Palma, but that’s not a particularly strong quake. It was at just 12km depth so it’s possible we felt it but it could equally have been a separate transient tremor here in west Tenerife. Cumbre Vieja’s volcanic tremor is high at the moment, and after a very busy evening in the four vents in the main cone, things became even wilder around 8am. These are the dismal scenes in La Palma around 9am today with a closer perspective second below.

Updated 6pm, 23/10: Another earthquake of 4.9 has been felt widely through La Palma having been registered just after 3.30pm at a depth of 38km with epicentre again in Cumbre Vieja, Mazo municipio.

Updated 4pm, 23/10: Taking our comfort where we can, the following has been posted by Eduardo Díaz, an outdoors activity guide and head of Volcanic Life, the business that ensured that the podencos in the reservoir tank for 11 days were being fed and watered.

Buenas noches, hace un rato me han facilitado la siguiente información desde una fuente muy fiable y sentí el deber de compartirla, imagenes y videos de 5 de los 6 perros que estuve avituallando durante 11 días en la isla de lava (KIPUKA) de camino Pastelero. Creo que esto aclara definitivamente que los perros se encuentran en buen estado de salud, bien atendidos, y fuera de peligro, lo cual me produce un enorme alivio ya que llevaba muchos dias con el corazón encogido.
Los perros han sido atendidos por el colectivo voluntario de veterinarios, y nos confirman que se encuentran en una casa de acogida que se encargará de cubrir todas sus necesidades. Nos han pasado fotos y vídeos para dar fe de ello.
Como principal encargado de alimentarlos durante 11 días, realizando varios vuelos a diario de forma totalmente voluntaria y altruista, puedo confirmar que son los animales que se encontraban aislados en la isla de lava de camino pastelero.
No dispongo de más detalles de este asunto pero si me aseguran que la dirección técnica del PEVOLCA dispone de información adicional al respecto.
Espero que esta publicación sirva para zanjar las dudas y graves acusaciones que gratuitamente se han vertido en diferentes redes sociales y otros medios de comunicación. Creo que esta historia, que auguraba un difícil desenlace, se ha resuelto felizmente, y ha sembrado una semilla de esperanza en nuestros corazones.

Diaz confirms he has seen evidence that the dogs are in good health, well cared for, and out of danger. They are now charges of a volunteer veterinary collective which has confirmed they’re being fostered in a home that will take care of all their needs. Diaz ends by saying that he hopes his words will end the various doubts and conspiracy theories that have been gratuitously spread on social media to create drama and likes by people who wouldn’t recognize the truth if it hit them in the face (my version). Diaz says that although a different outcome was predicted, this has ended happily indeed, a seed of hope for us all.

edit: actually, my rendering of Diaz’ words is a bit unkind. Yes conspiracy theorists are idiots, and there are nutters who like to create drama and acquire likes, but most people probably just don’t have the tools to work out the truth of what they’re told, but are very aware that one really can’t any longer trust anything one’s told without further research. The problem is that when they come across something that is unclear and which concerns them greatly, they then act as “useful idiots” for those genuinely trying to cause mayhem.

Updated 2pm, 23/10: This lunchtime, following a Pevolca meeting, Canarian President Ángel Torres has confirmed these are very hard times for La Palma with no end in sight to the eruption but island President Mariano Hernández Zapata has urged the islanders not to lose hope. We are already working on La Palma’s future, he said, with unity of purpose and administration. It’s true that all administrations are working together, pretty marvellously as it happens, and that is the case all the way up to the national Government with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez himself back at the Pevolca meeting today, his fifth visit now to La Palma during this month that the eruption has been ongoing. These are the scenes currently, with intense Strombolian activity from four vents emitting ash and pyroclasts, profuse lava with degassing (white).

Updated 23 October – Eruption Day 35: Another colada, another church. This time, the church of La Laguna is where the lava flow has stopped. Whether this church will survive or suffer the same fate as that of Todoque will presumably be known in coming hours. Many will be praying for the house of God but residents evacuated from the general area around La Laguna are waiting and watching, and indeed praying for their very own homes as the lava seems to be making up its mind in which direction(s) to head next. That is true of the whole eruption right now, in fact, with Cumbre Vieja in a phase of quietude, or at least it was until around 11.30 this morning when another part of the main cone collapsed, as can be seen in the two videos from Involcan below. We were advised last night, indeed, that the SO2 levels show the eruption far from nearing an end. IGN Canarias director Maria José Blanco explained that these should be between 100 and 500 tonnes a day to show signs of remission, but Thursday’s readings recorded 28,745 tonnes. At least the rain that was expected this weekend might not be such a problem after all because it should mainly affect the north of the island and therefore not increase the threat of lahars, as discussed in yesterday’s first update.

Updated 10pm, 22/10: It was quiet for a while this afternoon. This evening it has reactivated, and in line with suggestions that the public might need to get used to the idea of stronger earthquakes, Pevolca has issued recommendations tonight for those who find themselves in a tremor situation. All pretty obvious really, I suppose. They say:

Right now, before an earthquake: take preventive measures: reinforce shelves, fix lamps and remove large objects from furniture.

IF YOU ARE OUTDOORS when an earthquake occurs, find an open space and stay away from structures that could fall onto the road and areas at risk of collapse.

For your safety, remember these self-protection tips:

  • Go to open spaces
  • Stay away from buildings, balconies, traffic lights, lampposts, power lines and trees
  • Stay away from areas where there is a danger of landslides
  • Follow the recommendations of the authorities and get information through official channels and the media
  • If you are in a vehicle, slow down and stop the engine when possible, away from buildings and steep areas. Turn on the emergency indicators and stay in the vehicle until the earthquake is over.

If you are INDOORS, stay calm and follow these self-protection tips:

  • For the duration of the quake, do not go outside
  • Take cover under a door frame or a solid piece of furniture, such as a table.
  • Do not stand near windows.
  • If you have to leave your home, turn off water, electricity and gas.
  • In case of evacuation, take the stairs and do not use the lift.
  • Follow the recommendations of the authorities and get information through official channels and the media.

God speed, La Palma.

Updated 22 October – Eruption Day 34: They call them lahars, a Javanese volcanic word that describes a rapid and violent coursing of mud, rock, unformed pyroclastic debris, and water. Lahars are one of the most feared phenomena that eruptions can produce, more destructive sometimes even than pyroclastic flows, they say. And they are fearing this today in La Palma where rain is forecast, with Pevolca advice to everyone in the Tazacorte area especially to clear their buildings and paths of any accumulated ash before it starts raining. The forecast is not for heavy rain, but some is almost certain – 95% chance – and the authorities are concerned that if it were even slightly heavier than light, there could be problems.

One piece of good news concerns the podencos, and they really do now seem to have been saved. The Galician drone company is returning home today, and has said this morning that after exhaustive surveys, the dogs are most definitely not in or near the reservoir. All they’ve found is human footprints, presumably of the rescuers who, we know, are in no danger from the police for their heroics, and a banner saying that The A Team has rescued the dogs who are now safe. The drone company people say they feel cheated from being able to carry out the rescue they planned and, like us, will never know the full story, but we know its ending, thankfully – a happy one.

Significant seismic activity has continued overnight with earthquakes at both mid and upper levels registered up to an m4.2 but Pevolca is now beginning to prepare the public with suggestions that they might need to get ready for earthquakes of up to even m6. Although they remind us that they no longer use the Richter scale for these magnitudes, the readings really are not all that different and the advice has clearly caused alarm in some quarters, but at least people are being prepared for what might yet come … even as we hope it doesn’t. The Cabildo has posted the following drone footage compilation from this morning. Scenes of devastation and doom, where does one even start? And we are nowhere near over the worst yet, it would now appear.

Updated 2pm, 21/10: The Guardia Civil has confirmed that four English men who are resident in Tenerife have been identified after boasting with photos on social media about going to La Palma to get inside the exclusion zone for a photocall with the eruption. In the process, police say, they behaved like idiots, endangering the lives of security forces and emergency personnel, and as a result they are now being prosecuted for public order offences. These were places within an area from which residents themselves are prohibited as their very homes are devoured by burning lava. We have seen the outrage at remarks like the national tourism minister’s, that the eruption could be a boon for that sector on La Palma. Not now, tourism, was the clear response. Not while people’s lives are in shreds. Dramatic selfie seeking is tourism with knobs on though, isn’t it? … in more than one sense. Selfish? yes; idiots? yes; criminals? … now, the Courts will have to say, yes, thanks to the evidence they themselves supplied.

Updated 1pm, 21/10: Mystery surrounds the situation and condition of the podencos trapped in the empty reservoir surrounded by lava in Todoque. They were to be rescued by a drone company from Galicia but as of this morning, the company has confimed from a flyover that the dogs cannot be seen. DONDEESTANLOSPODENCOS is now a trending topic on Spanish twitter … everyone wants to know WHERE ARE THE PODENCOS?! No-one knows. Or rather, no-one is prepared to say since their rescue has been subject to legal challenge (unbelievable as it seems) and there are serious fines for violating exclusion zones. We may or may not find out more but there are serious, though naturally unconfirmed, rumours from pretty credible sources that they are safe. For their own part, the Guardia Civil confirm the dogs cannot be seen, and say that they assume that the animals found their own way out. Given that there is little way, to my mind, that those dogs in their state could have got out of that tank, it’s seems a pretty clear and very humane statement that they are not looking for any activists to impose a fine on … assuming of course that it wasn’t a few dog-loving GC officers themselves …

Updated 21 October – Eruption Day 33: Another area that will have given generations a locative identity has been lost to the lava. As with Todoque, so now with La Laguna, a little town whose football field, roundabout, school, and even petrol station have been consumed. It’s just getting worse and worse, locals are saying, and after an explosive night last night, no-one can counter their words. Regional President Ángel Torres is talking to the municipios about provision of land to rehouse those who won’t be able to return home from what are now 7,000 evacuated, feeling shell-shocked and displaced. Throughout the night, La Palma has continued experiencing strong earthquakes with an m4.3 the largest, again under Cumbre Vieja in the Mazo municipio. In addition, there has been increased eruptive activity which is throwing out huge quantities now of ash. Volcanes de Canarias has provided this still from a webcam of the scene at 10.30 this morning, and say that the dynamic in the main cone appears to be changing, possibly due to the presence of water in the subsoil which will be increasing the explosiveness. Not really the words one wants to hear …

Updated 20 October – Eruption Day 32: The largest earthquake registered in this eruption so far is now an m4.9 recorded around 10pm last night at a depth of 39km under Cumbre Vieja in Mazo municipio. It was part of an intense seismic night with over 70 earthquakes, seven of which were felt quite widely. The m4.9, indeed, was felt beyond La Palma, being felt in La Gomera and Tenerife as an m3 or m2. Apart from the seismic activity, the volcanic tremor is also high, IGN says, confirming that their close monitoring continues along with further strengthening the already reinforced surveillance network for analysis in situ and later. Despite the apparent increase in activity and a natural rise in concern, Involcan are annoyed this morning with stories that a full-scale evacuation of the whole of La Palma was being planned: the volcanologists say that they are not behind this news, that it is not actually news at all, that it is fake news reflecting some joker’s idea of fun. It won’t be too much fun there today, that’s for sure … expected activity today in graphic form below. Below it is a video of the test of those drones yesterday afternoon: it consisted of a 1,200m flight with a drone carrying a 15kg load for 200m. It was successful! Hopefuly we will have news later …

Updated 2pm, 19/10: The plan to rescue the four dogs that Mencey posted about (6pm, 16/10) has been approved. They are going for it with drones to airlift the dogs out of the empty water tanks in which they have taken refuge from the lava that surrounds them in the Todoque area that we watched with horror recently being consumed. The rescue will be carried out by a Galician drone company which is already in La Palma, with the pilots using two drones, one a cargo drone. I imagine we will have some footage of this, and it is likely to be very emotive viewing. It will certainly be unique viewing: this has never been done in Spain before. Everyone will be praying or keeping everything crossed in the yearning for these dogs to be brought out alive. It is such an incredibly audacious plan … the very best of luck to them!

Updated 1pm, 19/10: Away from phenomenal scenes of pyroclastic detonations and fountaining lava, the eruption is producing coladas that are consuming physical infrastructure like football fields, roads, roundabouts, and anything in their path as they creep inexorably towards the sea and the creation of more fajanas. La Palma is giving us an object lesson in perspective because it is spectacular and yet there is a mundaneness in scenes such as this from Involcan, constantly monitoring gases and determining internal conditions of lava …

Updated 19 October – Eruption Day 31: The 19th. A month to the day since it all started. A month in which some pretty impressive statistics have stacked up. This chart is from the Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres y Ciudades facility in La Laguna University.

Updated 18 October – Eruption Day 30: Air quality this morning has worsened, primarily because the calima has complicated conditions, and Pevolca has therefore recommended that residents around the El Paso area should stay indoors as much as possible between 2 and 9pm today and tomorrow. IGN, for its part, has confirmed that the situation remains stable, with significantly increased seismic activity over the last three or so days but within normal limits. There was, nonetheless, some spectacular eruptive activity overnight as can be seen in Involcan’s video here.

I know it feels odd that something just goes on and on and then stops. We almost seem programmed to expect things to build up and up and then produce a spectacular climax. Hollywood’s fault, probably! This lack of a spectacular finale, however, is what is likely to happen in La Palma, and we can suppose this because this is what has happened before. It is far more likely to carry on as presently, leaving a new fajana along the base of the island’s current outline for future generations to turn into banana plantations or salt flats (on which more in the near future) … or whatever those future generations decide to do. The graphic below, from Datadista will hopefully give the context for this … you can see the two coladas in the context of all the previous ones that have resulted from eruptions just like this, though this one is already responsible for covering more surface with lava than any eruption since 1585.

Photo: IGME

Updated 17 October – Eruption Day 29: As Theresa May spent the end of her political lifetime saying, nothing has changed. Another strongly seismic night for residents with an m4.3 shaking the island and keeping everyone awake but there is now doubt whether the “new vent” is actually a new one or the reactivation of an old one. It is not very active, anyway, thankfully. Meanwhile, here are some Nasa astronauts on their next Mars mission … not really, it’s the sky that’s red in the photo on the left not the planet! They are, in fact, teams from the Spanish Mining Institute and the army’s Military Emergencies Unit who are calibrating temperature probes to assess the state of the lava. And to finish, here is a photo I find spectacular, from Involcan, of the main colada and its fajana … you can see how it’s formed and constantly being reinforced by waterfalls of lava, lavafalls! An incredible image.

Updated 6pm, 16/10 by Mencey: An interesting plan is being mooted for the rescue of dogs trapped in empty water tanks amongst the lava flow. Until now, they have been dropping food and drink with drones, but now there is an audacious plan actually to rescue the dogs with a very large drone from a company in Galicia. Read all about it HERE

Updated 5pm, 16/10: It’s quite literally Dantesque … but the Inferno rather than Purgatory, and certainly not Paradise. The Divine Comedy continues with these scenes at 4.30pm today.

Updated 16 October – Eruption Day 28: The calima has arrived as forecast and in the medianías the temperature has already risen significantly and the warmer drier air is expected to worsen air conditions because the cooling and ventilating alisios have been driven back. Although it’s lovely for some of us to have an Indian summer with temperatures already up 6-8º on yesterday, meteorologists say there’s no immediate end in sight and in La Palma that is not going to be received as good news. Ash and SO2 are the main concern at the start of today and lockdown orders are possible, the Cabildo has said. Strong seismic activity continues in the 10-15km and 25+km levels including the largest earthquake so far at 5.40am, an m4.6 in Cumbre Vieja at a depth of 37km. Naturally it was felt throughout the island but generally things remain stable apart from the opening of another vent to the SE of the main cone last night as has been feared for a couple of days.

Apart from concerns in the animal and farming sectors, La Palma’s astrophysicists are another group increasingly worried about the damage caused by the eruption. The observatory’s Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) is the world’s largest telescope but they have had to close it because its mirrors would be damaged by the ash: as we’ve seen, ash feels soft but under microscopes its jagged edges are clear and these mirrors are more finely surfaced than any glass we would come across in daily life. The telescope was closed within a week of the eruption starting and the astrophysicists at the observatory say that they can’t envisage it reopening while they’re under a perpetual ash shower. The very time many are yearning for a clear night sky to see the possibility of other pristine worlds has turned into the time that the observatory has had to lower its gaze back to its own tormented reality. Hopefully it won’t have to keep its eyes closed for too long.

Updated 4pm, 15/10: The La Palma Cabildo has said this afternoon that they are constantly monitoring all aspects of this eruption, whether the course that the coladas are taking and are likely to take, evacuations needed, the seismic and volcanic tremors, and so on. Air quality too is constantly measured for any toxic gases and at present, the Cabildo says, it is far from levels implying risk but a calima expected over the next couple of days could worsen those readings and require the authorities to issue another home confinement order. Deformation has lessened in the area around the measuring station nearest the cone and the others aren’t showing significantly worse deformation in what is, at present, a more effusive phase, with more lava than ash.

The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) remains at 2 on a scale of up to 8, and this is now something they are beginning to stress for some reason, possibly because they expect it to change but more likely to reassure residents in La Palma that the situation remains one of stability within chaos, and that although patience is running thin and people are beginning to suffer considerable crisis fatigue, there is no actual reason for fear to increase. Whatever the reason, it seems a reasonable time to detail it.

  • VEI 0 – 1: Hawaiian – Hawaiian/Strombolian. Effusive but gentle, low-level, small to medium volume
  • VEI 2: Strombolian/Vulcanian. Explosive, with dense cloud of ash and gases with volcanic bombs (2-3 meters in diameter)
  • VEI 3: Vulcanian/Pelean. Severe, with hot ash avalanches and pyroclastic flows
  • VEI 4: Pelean/ /Plinian. Cataclysmic, with columns of gas and ash reaching the stratosphere and so affecting international air travel, eg Iceland 2010
  • VEI 5: Plinian. Paroxysmal, the sort of eruption that gave us the archaeological sites near Naples in Italy, cities entombed and incinerated, anything in Vesuvius’ way demolished with ash and pyroclastic flows at a speed of some 700kph. These VEI 5 eruptions are called Plinian because Vesuvius’ devastating activity in 79AD was described by Pliny the Elder who actually died in a paroxysm after Pompeii and Herculaneum had already been destroyed in the same eruption process, Pliny’s death probably occurred as a result of inhaling toxic gases. For anyone who’d like more on pyroclastic flows and what they do to us, have a look at Nat Geo HERE
  • VEI 6: Plinian/Ultra-Plinian. Colossal, causing global effects, think Krakatoa
  • VEI 7: Ultra-Plinian. Colossal+. Only a handful known in history, it seems, one of them being Thera in 1620BC … now known better as Santorini, one of the Greek Cyclades. The eruption is thought to have caused a southwards-heading tsunami that ended the Minoan culture in Crete, leaving one of the only languages for which we have written evidence that is still undeciphered, the Linear A script
  • VEI 8: Supervolcanic. Colossal++. There hasn’t been one that anyone’s aware of but Yellowstone’s a candidate apparently

There are very many volcanic eruptions worldwide in the first three categories, and it’s only when you get to VEI 3 or above that you’re down to counting in the hundreds. And if you look at the link to the detail behind the chart, you see how the increments work … a VEI 3 is much more than just a bit worse than a VEI 2. It is, in fact, ten times worse because it is a logarithmic scale which goes up by an order of magnitude each step, the magnitude being amount of eruptive matter ejected. I don’t know of anyone in La Palma right now who suspects that the island’s eruption will reach level 3.


Updated 15 October – Eruption Day 27: La Palma has experienced another m4.5 earthquake, again in the Mazo area and like the last one which was recorded at a depth of 37km, this one was at 36km at 7am this morning. There is little change in the eruption but one thing that hasn’t changed is the sense of all hands to the pumps. I’ve mentioned various organizations throughout this thread, like the Guardia Civil, and Involcan, and how everyone just does whatever they can to help wherever help is needed. I’ve also mentioned Gran Canarian fire chief Federico Grillo who has been in La Palma offering his own pair of hands and his advice on forest fires. He is one of very many bomberos forestales – forestry fire brigades – who are working around the clock not just in relation to fires that break out because lava causes conflagrations but also to clean up ash or sweep it off the occasional roof to prevent the weight causing it to collapse. They also help feed livestock where finca owners have had to evacuate and, in some cases, even loading up their belongings to assist an urgent order to leave. Click the collage of images (right) of these often unsung heroes.

There are serious concerns now for the banana sector, and the Canarian Government has asked the EU to keep its classifications and reference levels in place for plantations affected by lava and ash so as to maintain the volume of aid to producers. Their problem is that under EU regulations farmers have the obligation to supply 70% of their marketable quota under the agricultural subsidy system for RUP regions known as POSEI (details HERE). They need an exemption, obviously, because they can’t provide those quantities in order to maintain their entitlement to full subsidy. Regional Agriculture Minister Alicia Vanoostende has invited EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to visit La Palma so that he can assess first-hand the devastation caused by the volcanic eruption on the island’s primary sector. Following Canarian President Torres’ own words that he would give everything he could to help the island, Vanoostende added that “right now, no help is enough for La Palma, so we have to mobilize as many public institutions as possible.” She said that she held the “hope that Janusz Wojciechowski can join us and visit our island, because now more than ever, we are all with La Pama”. We are, indeed.

Updated 4pm, 14/10: Concerns have risen this afternoon. Significant seismic activity continues and lava is currently fountaining, so things are little different to the last few days in these respects, but problems are now compounded by yet another collapse in the northwest flank of the main cone with further lava flows pouring through. The result can be seen clearly in the Involcan video below from an hour or so ago, but volcanologists say that even more lava than can be seen is also coursing through the newly formed lava tubes that are channelling the coladas downhill, literally pushing the problem down to the coast.

Adding to concerns is the rate of seismic activity as distinct from magnitudes of individual tremors: the rate has increased such that double the number of quakes have been recorded today compared with yesterday. In addition, ground deformation has occurred again with greater elevation and a displacement southwards: volcanologists think that this could indicate intrusions of magma into the volcanic chamber exceeding the quantity being emitted … in other words, pressure building internally which could lead to further vents forming. Worrying hours.

Updated 14 October – Eruption Day 26: More evacuations have been ordered this morning as the three main coladas continue in various ways to cause chaos, and strong seismic activity continues with two earthquakes around 1.30am last night over 4, both at a depth of 37km. One of them, an m4.5 which is now the strongest since the eruption started, woke up very many all over La Palma. In the Canarian Parliament, President Torres has expressed his intense sadness for people seeing pieces of their lives being consumed as the lava entombs everything in its path but, he says, people’s actual lives have been, are, and will remain the priority.

Without any doubt whatsoever, Torres said, this is the most serious eruption that Europe has experienced in the last hundred years, with the only good news being that as of today we have no personal injuries to report. Whether this eruption really is the most serious in Europe in the last hundred years or not, Sicily has learned to live with Etna’s ongoing paroxysms, and La Palma might need to do the same. Alternatively it could all suddenly die away, the volcanic tremor seeming to switch itself off between one moment and the next. The other alternative is more dramatic, has been dismissed emphatically … let’s hope they’re right.

Updated 9pm, 13/10: I’ve often mentioned Seprona before in many other contexts, the Guardia Civil environmental unit, and here they are, in La Palma, rescuing chickens, pigs, sheep and donkeys, to feed and water them, and find new homes for them. Other GC colleagues meanwhile are out on patrol helping with monitoring air level parameters … another long night for some in La Palma.

Updated 3pm, 13/10: As with covid, so with Cumbre Vieja … people get fed up, authorities get defensive when dealing with a regular chorus of “when is it going to be over?”, and psychologists start talking about nudge theory, crisis fatigue, and wonder how to manage public behaviour in an ongoing crisis. Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez is himself back in La Palma today and has asked for patience from the public because scientists say that volcanic activity does not seem to be abating at present: this is going to continue, therefore, and Sánchez stressed how important it was that all the administrations involved were working together and issuing information as needed when it could be released with confidence. “I know it’s hard to ask for patience after all these long nights and days” he said, but he confirmed his ongoing support and attention: this won’t be his last visit, he confirmed. People will be glad of his words and reassurance, especially with the largest earthquake so far being registered this afternoon: an m4.4 at 36km depth in the Mazo area around 2.30pm.

The La Palma Cabildo has said this afternoon that air quality remains “good” though weather conditions over the next few days could make it difficult for gases to disperse. The Cabildo emphasized that although the ledge on which the fajana sits is unconsolidated, La Palma itself is a stable island at a geological level and the probability that new vents will appear beyond the immediate eruption area is low. The Cabildo confirmed that 92% of the island is unaffected by the eruption and life carries on normally, the island being secure. For his part, Canarian President Ángel Torres, also in La Palma with PM Sánchez, said today that the regional Government was working against the clock to put measures in place to guarantee crop survival, to speed up the arrival of social assistance, and to implement educational alternatives, all to stop La Palma’s future looking black.

Updated 13 October – Eruption Day 25: Today is, apparently, the United Nations International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction but there’s not a lot you can do to reduce the risk of a volcano erupting. The video below shows the scene at 8am in La Palma this morning as seismic activity continues and further evacuations take place due to new lava flows. In Tenerife, meanwhile, an investigation has started into reports today of a smell of sulphur in the northern medianías: scientists say it is possible that gases from the eruption have reached Tenerife and they will provide further information later when it’s available.

Updated 12 October – Eruption Day 24: The mother ship could hide in plain sight if aliens were actually to arrive, such is the massive cloud which also now effectively has its own weather system with lightning inside very visible throughout the night. Click on the photo (left) from the Coastguard to see what it looks like just off the coast from one of their lifeboats: its height has reduced to around 3,500m but it has spread considerably! Around 3,000 locals were released this morning from another home confinement order that was issued last evening after concerns about emission of gases: lava had reached an industrial estate and gas was being generated as a cement factory burned. Residents in the El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane areas were locked down temporarily but thankfully the gases dispersed quickly and the situation has now returned to normal.

Meanwhile, areas being called islands of diversity are appearing in what is now a radically changed landscape. These islands appear in situations like the lee of a lava stream that’s gone either side of a hill, so they’re cut off, and unless more lava finds a way to cover them they’ll continue providing refuge for birds and insects in an independent ecosphere. Some of these insects have contributed to another of La Palma’s rural industries that have so suffered, this time bee-keeping. In the Valle de Aridane area there were around 750 beehives within 3km of the cone itself, more further afield, and we’ve seen how windows rattle even up to 7km away. Some 50 beehives have been lost to the lava but others are now isolated. The banana and honey sectors, and others, and the people who live these rural lives need all the help they can get right now. To be quite clear in a situation where talk continues about travelling to see the spectacle, this is a disaster, not a sideshow, however awesome.

The way that isolated incidents crop up, such as the cement factory issue last night and further evacuations this afternoon because of rapid lava diversions, causing instant emergencies needing desperate measures demonstrates perfectly the condition of stability within chaos that the authorities keep offering as their definition of the state of the eruption. Strong seismic activity continues with registered quakes around m4 and an increased volcanic tremor today, the 24th day of the eruption which means it is now equal in duration to 1971’s Teneguía eruption but, volcanologists say, with double the amount of volcanic material emitted. So far. Meanwhile, IGN has increased its seismic monitoring of the other islands, including Tenerife, because of the activity in La Palma. This is a routine precaution, and no anomalies have been recorded, simply very low level <m1 tremors that routinely occur and which as normal have not been felt by the public.

Updated 11 October – Eruption Day 23: There is very little change this morning, with strong earthquakes continuing, over 40 recorded overnight, the largest an m4.3 at a depth of 39km in the Mazo area. This is expected to continue throughout today with a change in wind directions possibly worsening air quality: at present SO2 levels are high but still within safe boundaries. The new north-flank colada continues its course to the sea, slower now than yesterday: its arrival is anticipated along with a collapse of the existing fajana and you can see the Guardia Civil on this monitoring launch this morning already wearing breathing apparatus.

Updated 3pm, 10/10: Seismic activity is ferocious today at both medium (10-15km) and deep (20+km) levels, and the collapse of the north flank of the main cone has sent a huge river of lava flowing at around 700m an hour and carrying all before it. Down at the coast, the fajana now occupies 85 acres and has reached the edge of the platform on which it rests so a collapse could occur at any point. As we were told yesterday, this will produce waves and gases but for the moment air quality remains good, and the volcanic explosivity index is maintained at 2 (out of 8 as explained in yesterday’s first update). Monitoring is constant, obviously.

Updated 10 October – Eruption Day 22: A very noisy night with many tremors but, the Cabildo has confirmed, without incident apart from a full collapse of the north flank of the cone around 7pm last evening. The resulting colada is carrying blocks as big as houses towards the coast and below you can see the new stream in a video from the Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (Spanish Geological and Mining Institute). It has already destroyed the few properties that remained still standing in Todoque. This morning La Palma is undergoing sustained energetic explosions causing widespread vibrations and breakages up to 6km from the eruption area, with continuing earthquakes, the largest today being an m3.8 at 34km depth around 3am in the Mazo area.  The Cabildo insists that all this is within the range of normal for such an eruption of such a volcano.

Updated 4pm, 9/10: IGN Canarias director Maria José Blanco has contemplated the collapse of the platform created by the main lava flow, the platform called variously isla baja or fajana. This is because the accumulated lava has now reached the height of the cliff itself but is still constantly being pushed from behind by additional lava. The platform currently rests on a shelf that is narrow because La Palma is still a young island in relative terms and beyond this shelf, which is still geologically unconsolidated and so rather unstable, is a long deep slope to the seabed. A wave will form in this scenario, and naturally Blanco’s words have been interpreted as an announcement of an imminent tsunami even though she said nothing of the sort. And so today, Pevolca technical director Miguel Ángel Morcuende has explained that should the fajana collapse, as is quite possible at any moment, he said, it would nonetheless only have an impact in the area already evacuated.

Morcuende explained that existing evacuations had been carried out on the basis of anticipated risks, which included the danger of the fajana collapsing. The wave, Morcuende said, would be 5m high at the point of rupture with an extension of up to 150m, and so its intensity, which is inversely proportional to the distance. would decrease very rapidly. More noticeable and significant, he considered, might be the accompanying explosions as water vapour and gases were released. His overall message, however, was that this was already in their minds as a possibility which had been planned for, and which would not present a problem such as is envisaged by the dismissed megatsunami theory where half the southern part of the island breaks off, and that the two scenarios were wholly different … only one being realistic.

Updated 9 October – Eruption Day 21: This morning there are persistent earthquakes at shallow and median depths, current maximum is a 4.2, and the public has been advised that new tremors of mag 3-4 and resulting rockfalls are likely and that extreme caution is necessary. The north part of the main cone has now apparently suffered a partial collapse causing a new colada rather more to the west that is creating further difficulties for those working on the ground. Worse, the colada has itself formed yet another delta of rivers of lava which have carried away several properties previously in areas considered safe. The night’s intense lava emission has been somewhat replaced this morning by intense ash emission, and the current prevailing air direction with strengthening alisios is still and increasingly sending the now reinforced cloud towards Tenerife where some in the north are reporting ash falling on their terraces.

Below is a short video of the phenomenal scenes around 11am this morning but IGN stresses that despite the spectacular nature of cone collapses and lava fountains, this is all within the bounds of what can be expected from a level 2 (of a scale of 8) Strombolian eruption such as Cumbre Vieja is currently undergoing. Level 2 is considered a moderate eruption … compare with Mt St Helens in 1980, a level 5! There is a good explanatory chart HERE.

Updated 1pm, 8/10: I thought others would be interested in this little video that I found fascinating, a GES (Search & Rescue) flyover for thermal imaging carried out last night by the Canarian Government.

Photo: Aemet Canarias

Updated 8 October – Eruption Day 20: Another night of strong earthquake activity, the largest of 3.7 in the south shortly before 6am of a cluster in the Mazo and Fuencaliente municipios at a depth of between 11 and 15km. This morning there is increased pressure in the principal cone with continuous sustained explosions, and the changing wind direction has meant that ash from the main eruptive area has now reached north Tenerife and affected TFN where the ash cloud over the airport can be seen clearly (right). It has caused some flights to be cancelled or delayed, with others diverted to a currently unaffected TFS, while La Palma airport itself is shut again, and as usual, any and all travellers need to check flight status before leaving home.

photo: 112 Canarias

Work continues, meanwhile, to help rescue animals, as is the case with the Asociación Benawara in the IES Eusebio Barreto Lorenzo, a school where 25 volunteers are sheltering some 130 dogs, cats and birds with the support of volunteer vets. The association also administers all the donations it gets for the care of its rescuees, whether food, carrying crates, toys, medication, sweets, etc., and also helps those who were fortunate enough to be able to take their animals with them when they were evacuated.

Elsewhere, the Recinto Ferial in El Paso is now home to around 700 animals including pigs, cows, sheep, goats and chickens. Some of the livestock is homed for known owners but many animals have been collected on the streets, their owners forced to do as instructed and simply open their doors. Now these farm animals are safe and can be reunited with their owners at some point when people are able to start to think of moving on with their lives again. From one finca evacuated because of new lava flows, the Guardia Civil was needed to round up a collection of tropical birds: the police video shows the birds in a panic but they are now safe. It’s still very much all hands to the pumps to do whatever’s necessary wherever it’s needed without any concern for whose job something might usually be. The situation remains one of stability within chaos.

Updated 2pm, 7/10:  And now the largest earthquake is a 4.3 mag at 35km depth in the east of south La Palma. There are two levels of seismic activity now, the deep 35km layer and the higher layer at around 10-15km where most of these larger quakes are being felt. This last one at the deeper level was felt very widely, particularly in east La Palma.

Updated 7 October – Eruption Day 19: After reducing yesterday, seismic tremors have picked up again in the centre of Cumbre Vieja but at a depth of between 10 and 15km: this activity has included the strongest earthquake so far registered in this eruption, a 3.9 magnitude at 13k depth which was recorded around midnight, but there were over 30 others above magnitude 3 and over 50 above magnitude 2 in just the last 24 hours. Apart from the resurgent seismic tremor, Strombolian activity continues with lava fountains and strong ash emission.

As an interesting (I hope) aside, Italian volcanologists are presently reporting a strong explosion yesterday afternoon from the actual Strombolian volcano … on Stromboli, one of the eight Aeolian islands north of Sicily. It is thought to be the location that ancient Greek epic poets had in mind when they related how Odysseus entered the underworld to find out how to reach home in Ithaca after being blown so far off course in his tortuous return from Troy. In the Strombolian volcanic depths he learned that he must first pass through a narrow strait between two sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis. So holds Homeric scholarship, anyway, and academics have long wondered about the course of the voyage, and even its reality. Just opposite the NE tip of Sicily, however, is Calabria in Italy, and it has a coastal town called Scilla! Of Charbydis, the Sicilian side of the real-world Strait of Messina, there remains no sight but myth records it as a whirlpool off the coast anyway rather than land based. Apart from the geological record itself, therefore, the epic of Odysseus shows that Stromboli was erupting in the era of epic poetry three or so thousand years ago and indeed probably active in the time of Troy’s supremacy up to a thousand years before that. And Stromboli is still doing its Homeric thing … a mere blink of the eyes in geological time perhaps, and so perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much too quickly of La Palma!

Updated 3pm, 6/10: Pevolca technical director Miguel Ángel Morcuende has said that the eruption is in a new phase now, a stable one within which new vents or coladas, and their associated damage, are not expected, at least until the next phase. Due to weather conditions, however, Morcuende said that air quality could worsen in coming hours, and generally it was necessary to maintain maximum caution because the volcano is changing and continues to do so. The story itself now seems to be in an unfolding more slowly phase, and so I’ll update only as and when there is a new chapter, or at least if a page is turned.

Updated 6 October – Eruption Day 18: All that can be said this morning is that the eruption continues, that seismic activity continues though tremor frequency has reduced compared to Monday and Tuesday nights. IGN says that a dozen earthquakes have been registered overnight, the highest magnitude being 3.8 just before 8.30 this morning in Fuencaliente at a depth of 37 kilometres. This depth is apparently where much seismic activity is now taking place, and although quakes are seemingly felt more by the public when they’re nearer the surface, these considerably deeper ones may indicate, scientists suggest, that this eruption will go on for some considerable time yet. As we know, however, they said yesterday that there is no indication of when the Cumbre Vieja eruption will end; like all of us, when we can do nothing else, we go over and over the stuff we actually know and do what we can achieve.

Updated 11pm, 5/10: Images tonight of hell on earth, in paradise! The ancients viewed such places as possible entries to the underworld, literally the gates of hell! You can see why! Images from TV La Palma at around 10pm tonight … you can hear the explosions to go with the vivid images, the whole experience, as the ancients knew, quite otherworldly …

Updated 6pm, 5/10: As all political sources and scientific specialists say, there is no way at present to know when the Cumbre Vieja eruption will end. So meanwhile, here’s a timelapse from Aemet, incredible view from Tenerife of La Palma, as darkness falls, and that eruptive column starts to glow as light fails … it was filmed on 29 September and one can see the thin plume layer under the peak of Teide through the day and, at night, the red glow of the eruption 140km away!

Updated 3pm, 5/10: The La Palma Cabildo says this afternoon that air quality thankfully remains good with the amount of particles smaller than 10 microns decreasing significantly. This is due, they say, to changes in atmospheric weather such as the entry of the alisios and the rise of the thermal immersion layer which as we were advised recently can pin gases to lower levels and prevent them being released. Unfortunately, wind direction changes are expected to redistribute the plume towards the north and northeast of La Palma and this could disrupt airport activity; all passengers have anyway long been under instructions to check with airlines for any proposed travel. The authorities re-emphasize that the eruption is directly affecting only 8% of La Palma, with the rest of the island safe.

Updated 5 October – Eruption Day 17: Increased explosive activity (Strombolian) this morning from Cumbre Vieja. Impressive scenes here, filmed by agrarian bioscientist Manuel Nogales, and followed by a short video filmed from a dwelling just 7km from the eruption … you can hear the explosions so clearly, and you can see why they were advising people closer to tape up their windows to stop them shattering!

Updated 2pm, 4/10: A couple of days ago, Gran Canarian fire chief Federico Grillo explained that the eruption’s behaviour means that one day doesn’t prepare you for the next: like a game of chess, those dealing with the logistics and practicalities have to have a range of possible reactions to any move the volcano might make with nothing more than a suspicion of what the scenario facing them might be. This morning, Víctor Melo, president of the Volcanes de Canarias Asociación explained on Antena 3 that a volcanic eruption is much more like a TV series rather than a film, or a book rather than a page, with each day a new separate chapter.

Where this story ends, we can’t know, but previous volumes in the series suggest it will leave a new landscape behind it when it stops, with new cones, lava fields, and of course the isla baja that has formed where the lava has run into the sea. Some places, indeed, will no longer exist and so maps will have to be redrawn. The humanities will have to take up the story through the tools of their own trade, museums, history, sociology, cultural memory/anthropology etc, when the scientists are finally able to leave their fieldwork and return to their analysis in labs, universities and institutions, both sides of academia showing the symbiotic nature of the relationship they share with regard to learning. Hopefully it might also again demonstrate that we ourselves are the losers when either science or the humanities is undermined in unbalanced favour of the other.

Currently, scientists say that the accumulated released seismic energy indicates that the system continues to increase its rate of emission. As such, the eruption is constantly recharging itself with magma and producing continuous, and increasing, activity as the diagram below indicates. For the moment, they say, there is no indication that the eruption will end quickly, and indeed they expect seismicity with magnitudes between 3 and 4 to be maintained over coming hours. Tomorrow, they think, could see a new effusive phase with much more visible flowing lava. The story continues.

Updated 4 October – Eruption Day 16: There is continuous significant seismic activity at present, with many earthquakes registering above magnitude 3 since the early hours of this morning centred around Fuentecaliente de La Palma and Villa de Mazo at a depth of around 12km. It was one of mag 3.7 that is now thought to have caused the collapse of the main cone. They don’t actually use the Richter scale any more so magnitude isn’t measured the same way, it seems: there is an explanation HERE from IGN for those who are interested in this aspect but for our purposes on Haven Tenerife, we can get a general sense of strengh from our own ideas of magnitude with the numbers they now use. Pevolca committee is meeting this morning, as ever, and with Pedro Sánchez still here. While we wait for the report of today’s meeting, there are a couple of fabulous computer generated graphics HERE of what is going on in La Palma.

Updated 3 October – Eruption Day 15: After an extremely busy night for seismic activity on La Palma in which IGN registered several earthquakes, at least two of them near 4 mag and under Cumbre Vieja, the main cone has broken in part and through one of its new fissures a larger and more fluid lava stream is now heading towards the north. There now seems a clear north south line of seismic activity reaching straight through the main eruption area and it’s virtually continuous, volcanologists say. The volcanic tremor is maintaining stability, thankfuly, after rising somewhat in the last few days. The general picture remains stability within chaos, with the authorities advising people that rockfalls and breakages are likely and that caution is essential, staying indoors if and where possible. Volcanic activity continues to be intense and the eruptive column is now around 4.5km high.

Meanwhile, an associated major problem developed yesterday when the last irrigation pipe to the banana plantations in the south broke. The last few days have seen a range of adverts suggesting we can all support La Palma by eating their bananas which, it transpires, are mainly grown in the south precisely because of the volcanic soil produced by previous eruptions … and now this one has broken a supply network that threatens the survival of the island’s banana industry. It’s a big problem and it has had a major and immediate response from the authorities. This morning the Canarian Government’s Water Directorate has announced the emergency installation of two mobile desalination facilities in the Puerto Naos area to guarantee agricultural water for the plátano plantations affected to be followed by tanker ships which are coming from the mainland to provide a more consolidated approach and the potential for permanent solutions.

I’ll leave it for the moment with this spectacular little video from the early hours last night, filmed by Ernesto Santana.

Updated 1pm, 2/10: You’ll remember that when the eruption first started, those with farm animals were told to get in touch with a local Cabildo agency to find out arrangements, and those being evacuated and unable to take their pets should entrust them to family/friends. All others, however, were told to let their animals loose, not leave them tied up or enclosed. Give them a chance to escape, the authorities said. As I typed it at the time my heart was in my mouth. How many of us could just open the door and let animals we care for and have developed relationships with just go, chancing their luck with a nature they’ve never had to contend with before without the care we have taught them to expect?

And yet it was their best chance. And now, thanks to the Franz Weber Foundation a new Animales La Palma website has been designed to reunite these animals with those who had no choice but to set them free with no more than our hopes and their own good fortune. Animal support organizations on La Palma have been working around the clock to rescue such animals and will now be able to integrate all the reports of animals lost and abandoned, allowing any family on La Palma to recover their pets or livestock, and of course they can act as a responsible adoption agency where that is the only possibility for a particular animal. The website is intended to include more and more useful content for the management of animals in such eruptions, including calls for volunteers, donations for local NGOs, or advice on how to protect animals in these situations.

We have all seen images on TV of animals crying desperately and, as in some major fires around the world, even with their coats scorched. These extraordinarily distressing scenes will hopefully now start to be replaced in people’s memories with the inevitably emotional reunions we will all be longing to see.

Updated 2 October – Eruption Day 14: This morning there is a new vent in the north flank of the main cone – first video below – and further confinements have been ordered because of air quality fears and evacuations taken place as lava streams consume yet more dwellings and livelihoods. Aemet has released an animated graphic – second video below – of the expected track of the plume over the next couple of days, and as can be seen, it passes over Tenerife in its entirety. Some will remember Gran Canarian fire chief Federico Grillo whose name and especially exhausted face were very familiar to us in the horrendous fires there just a few years ago: he is currently in La Palma assisting and says that the eruption, which we know is stable but chaotic, is behaving such that one day doesn’t prepare you for the next … it’s like playing chess, he says.

Updated 6pm, 1/10: Mordorish drone footage here from the Spanish Geological Institute in collaboration with Gobcan … incredible scenes.

Updated 2.30pm, 1/10: The latest update of the practical situation from Pevolca is that air quality remains good on La Palma: in particular, in the Valle de Aridane as well as beyond the 2.5km exclusion perimeter air quality levels are absolutely within healthy and breathable limits but FFP2 masks are recommended in areas close to the marine plume. For most of the island life continues as normal, though umbrellas are now being used in Santa Cruz de la Palma because it’s raining ash. Most effects, however, are felt in just 8% of the island, centred in the Valle de Aridane. The new colada of magma is heading towards the primary lava flow and is expected to merge with it.

For IGN’s part, Director Maria José Blanco says that the fissural eruption continues with explosive Strombolian and effusive Hawaiian phases, and that so far 80m cubic metres of lava have been emitted. The new landmass that’s forming as the colada hits the sea is now being called an isla baja (as in north Tenerife!) and a fajana – a strip of land: it now extends out 500m and is 30m deep. Blanco confirmed that seismic activity continues and the volcanic tremor has increased in the last 24 hours.

Updated 2pm, 1/10: The Cabildo of La Palma has said that it no longer needs donations of food and so is temporarily suspending its collection. This was already true for clothing as I posted previously. The Cabildo thanks everyone who has donated so generously. Monetary donations continue to be welcome – see the last bullet point at the top of the page. The official announcement is HERE, and they say thank you in their own inimitable way, inscribed in volcanic ash.

Updated 1pm, 1/10: One area of work during this eruption that has been singled out by Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez is that of animal welfare. She has expressed gratitude to the scientists who work, for example, for the National Geographic Institute who, along with their official researches, are usually to be found helping out wherever they can, and that often involves getting animals to safety. We can see in these images tweeted by IGN (left, click to see full size) what they have to consider as just part of the job! Meanwhile, this is the latest drone footage, of the new colada.

Updated 1 October – Eruption Day 13: There are new fumeroles now and volcanologists say that they indicate the possibility of linear weakness in the main cone, with magma being forced out just below at a new point. Given that the megatsunami theory requires water in magma and linear fractures we have to be very cautious in interpreting this … we must note that the weakness required for such a catastrophe would have to be within fissures, and those of Cumbre Vieja itself, not just in the wall of the cone newly formed from this eruption. That is providing sufficient cause for concern in its own right without it needing to foreshadow anything worse. This is drone footage this morning.

Updated 11.15pm, 30/9: It’s unsettling, worrying, frightening, stable, chaotic … all this. And still awesome. This is the eruption from the ISS, taken by Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Novitski. Bit special, this planet isn’t it?

Updated 11pm, 30/9: Tonight, there is a new colada from the rear of the main vent below the cone, the secondary vent one can call it. This new stream has appeared along with increased seismic activity in south La Palma, including a 3.5 earthquake at a depth of 13km with epicentre in Villa de Mazo: that’s in east La Palma, but due east of Cumbre Vieja. Several of these tremors have been felt by the public and more are anticipated, and there are increasing concerns about air quality and so monitoring is being reinforced. This all sounds worrying, but it’s within what they call normal parameters. They, of course, are volcanologists and so are used to the concept. For everyone else, it’s unsettling but they reassure us that the eruption is stable with explosive phases and lava emission.

Updated 3pm, 30/9: This afternoon, fumaroles have appeared on the north of the cone. Fumaroles, we are to understand, are cracks through which gases and steam escape, steam formed by water boiling as its pressure drops when it meets open air. As we can see from the image (right), there’s a field of them. Lower vents are still emitting rivers of lava – Hawaiian activity – while Strombolian activity continues in the upper ones. From the sea, the situation looks like this, a video taken this morning off the new coastline formed by the lava: the Coastguard vessel is the lifeboat Salvamar Alphard, one of several vessels there whose job is to keep a constant watch on the exclusion zone to prevent access as well as take scientific measurements of air and water.

Updated 2pm, 30/9: Reports of the eruption often refer to ground deformation, and although we obviously have a literal understanding, it’s difficult sometimes to get a mental image. Here then is a great bit of editing by astrophotographer Javier Martínez Morán of Apalmet Meteorología’s webcam footage showing exactly the difference in ground level alternating the image before the eruption started and now …

Updated 30 September – Eruption Day 12: The Canarian Government has released this graphic map of the lava and the increase in La Palma’s coastline caused by the flow (left): this constant river of very viscous lava continues pouring into the sea so the landscape will inevitably continue to change. Gas measurements are being taken this morning but Aemet spokesman Rubén del Campo says that strong alisios continuing to return over the next couple of days will disperse any emissions towards the sea and guarantee air quality. Other risks remain, however, and this morning there’s an increase in Strombolian activity with strong ash and smoke eruptions from the main cone: initial analysis suggests the possibility that it is mixing with water which, as we were educated yesterday, means the potential for phreatomagmatic activity – undesirable in the sea let alone in the main cone. Volcanes de Canarias has released this video of this morning’s activity.

Updated 5pm, 29/9: Pevolca confirms that although the lava has reached the sea, something that the public was obviously focused on, the eruption is still not stabilized and scientific monitoring continues. Residents in the areas of San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa remain confined to their homes while definitive studies are carried out into gas effects, and some residents of evacuated areas will be allowed to return to collect further belongings and feed their livestock, and finca owners evacuated in certain areas will be allowed back temporarily to irrigate their crops. They will only be able to access their properties under the protection of Guardia Civil and providing they’re outside the 2.5 kilometre exclusion zone, and assuming that air quality measurements guarantee safety. Meanwhile all civil protection and security measures remain in place.

Maria José Blanco, Director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canaries, has explained that the cloud of gases created by the lava reaching the sea is thankfully confined to the contact area. It has not spread laterally nor affected any population. Thank goodness that the thermal inversion largely corrected itself overnight – very little remains, and that’s at around 1.5km altitude. With regard to the associated earthquakes registered in the southern Fuencaliente area, Blanco pointed out that while clearly related to the ongoing emission, the volcanic system already has what we can call an escape valve and so doesn’t need a new path to the surface. She connected it, in context, with the submarine eruption off the El Golfo coast: that began in a July, advanced across the island from north to south, and ended by erupting in the Mar de Las Calmas. “Once the eruption had started, seismicity resumed in the El Golfo area, with magnitudes even greater than the pre-eruptive ones. Therefore, this sort of behaviour has already happened and it’s not unreasonable to assume the same for the Cumbre Vieja eruption”, she said.

Pevolca’s current assessment, therefore, is that the fissural eruption continues its Strombolian mechanism with a prevailing effusive character for the last two days in the emission centre of the northern flank. Since the lava flow came into contact with the sea just after 11pm last night, it maintains a type of waterfall forming a lava delta at and extending southwards from the base of the cliff. Clouds of water vapour and other possibly toxic gases are being produced in this area and are concentrated in a small surrounding area. The eruptive process continues while the other lava flows are practically inactive but given the extreme thickness of parts of the colada, collapse can occur at its front edge. This, in steeper areas, could lead to the formation of large fragments of lava detaching and suddenly spurting forwards depending on the topography, or in particularly steep areas become small pyroclastic flows.

This remains a perilous eruption that is far from over, and Pevolca says that the eruption may proceed with episodes of increased and decreased Strombolian activity, as well as pulses of phreatomagmatic activity. We are all learning new vocabulary here thanks to this eruption and the marvellous explanations that are being provided by the Canarian scientists: phreatomagmatic eruptions are apparently volcanic eruptions caused by magma and water interaction, virtually immediate and with much steam, and very explosive. Meanwhile, the cone itself changes repeatedly due to successive growth and reconfiguration processes. All that can be done now, scientists and the authorities say, is comply with security measures, remain calm, and avoid spreading unfounded rumours. In the event of any further evacuations, ayuntamientos will communicate the routes to be taken and the established assembly point.

General recommendations for the present are to close all windows and exterior doors, lowering blinds and shutting off water, gas and electricity supplies. Carry in a backpack any documents and medicines for daily use, mobile phone and charger, battery-powered radio, torch, clothes for about three days. Only use telephones for what is strictly necessary. Go to the established meeting points and in case you have to go to a shelter, go to the affiliation points. People should stay in their homes unless the building itself has become compromised. Avoid going outside and, if you do, cover your nose and mouth with a mask to avoid inhaling ash directly. Protect eyes with goggles, wear glasses instead of contact lenses, or place a wet cloth over the mouth. Naturally, avoid outdoor exercising. When ash is falling, close doors, windows and all ventilation in the house (fireplaces, heating, air conditioners, etc.). Remove accumulated ash from flat roofs and rain gutters and keep water tanks and cisterns covered: collect it up in plastic bags and deposit it in the containers provided.  Prevent ash from coming into contact with food. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and do not eat food outdoors.

If you’re indoors and experience an earthquake, take cover under a door frame or a solid piece of furniture, such as a table, and stay away from windows. If you have to leave your home, avoid using the lift and turn off the water, electricity and gas. If you are outdoors, move away from tall buildings, lamp posts, billboards, etc. and if you are near the sea, move away from the shore. Likewise, in view of the risk of noxious gases, close doors, windows, blinds and anywhere air could enter, and if possible, stay in the innermost rooms of your dwelling. Switch off ventilation and heating along with any system that brings in outside air. Do bear in mind that if you are outdoors, a vehicle is not a safe place and you should take shelter in the first building you find, as you should also do if you are on foot. Above all, don’t move around until instructions are given and only use 112 in emergencies.

We’ll all have the basics to equip us for a volcanology foundation course by the time this is over!

Updated 29 September – Eruption Day 11: It used to be called the Playa del Perdido – the beach of the lost, and now it’s the beach itself that’s lost to a new piece of La Palma that formed last night. The lava is expected to widen out and form a real delta of lava without any danger to the public. In that respect, the thermal inversion has corrected itself and this morning from 1km altitude in west Tenerife the plume from the pyroclastic column is clearly visible again above the clouds, and any noxious gases forming due to lava and water mixing will be able to rise and escape: the Pevolca committee is continuously monitoring air quality but any dangerous fumes are expected to be blown towards the southwest by the returning alisios. There are further earthquakes and deformation of the ground this morning, and this was the scene as dawn broke over a La Palma that has the spookiest of aspects right now! The second video below is drone footage from Canarian TV this morning and shows how the lava is creating a new bit of coast for the island.

Updated 11.10pm, 28/9: And it has arrived at the sea. Emergency services say: stay indoors if you’re already there, find somewhere to shelter indoors if not. Ánimo, La Palma.

Updated 10pm, 28/9: The main lava stream (colada) is now quite close to the coast, crossing the coast road and severing the last connection between the southwest of the island and the Valle de Aridane. It can be seen in the video below and the authorities tonight are reinforcing warning messages, not least because the thermal inversion is still with us. Whether confined to home or not, everyone is being told tonight to keep windows shut, stay indoors and particularly away from the coast or blocked roads if out and about by necessity. The Cabildo has stressed that as long as everyone abides by the rules put in place by the authorities, based on scientific advice, the coastal exclusion area guarantees public safety.

Photo: Dipartimento Vulcani dell’INGV

Updated 28 September – Eruption Day 10: Today dawned with what Involcan has described as the plume of the eruption generating gravity waves in the atmosphere. These have been captured (right) by the Italian Volcanological Institute but the description as gravity waves has caused some controversy with physicists who seek to differentiate gravity waves from gravitational waves. Meteorologists explain, however, that we currently have what’s known as a thermal inversion where warmer air traps cooler air beneath it – opposite to the normal situation where air temperature decreases with altitude. This is likely to change over the next few days as the alisios from the northwest strengthen, they say, but it is currently acting like a saucepan lid, causing the plume produced by the eruption to create waves in the air just as a drop does when it falls into a glass of water.

The real problem with this thermal inversion is that it traps pollutants at low levels, so we must hope that the alisios are back in control by the time any noxious gases are released if the lava reaches the sea. Nonetheless, Pevolca today confirms air quality is “good” though worsening, and reminds the public that protection is needed when dealing with ash, in which respect further recipients are being placed for its collection. Meanwhile, earthquakes continue in the far south of La Palma while residents in some areas on the west coast remain confined to their dwellings for fear of the lava stream nearest the coast reaching the sea … a feat it has still not achieved. There are several streams: as I described in one of the recent CanaryCasts the lava streams coming from the vents in the two fissures are spreading as they go downhill, forming what is effectively a delta of lava which has required the cordoning off of a sizeable chunk of the island’s western seaboard. It is the delta nature of these streams that is responsible, I would think, for considerable confusion at times in reports as to “distance from the sea of the stream” … there isn’t one stream, so it depends on which stream or which part of the “colada” is being referenced as to its distance from the coast.

In respect of travel, the last thing I’ll say is that La Palma airport has been reopened this morning but yesterday showed that we simply cannot rely on it being open at any  given moment and, as the official information has been saying for days now, any and all travellers should check with airlines before leaving home as to the status of their flight … and airport! Binter has indeed said today that it won’t resume flights to or from La Palma until the airport is secure, and we simply do not know when that will be a declaration that can be made. Generally, the eruption situation remains unchanged: stability within chaos. Involcan say that this new phase is an effusive one, with fewer explosions as such and less involvement from the principal cone and much more in fast-flowing lava from the vents. This means, in practical terms, that the original cone is issuing a lot of ash and smoke explosively – Strombolian – while the newer cone of merged vents is emitting viscous lava – Hawaiian, much more fluid and with greater ease of movement. The most reassuring thing, perhaps, is that Involcan says this is entirely normal behaviour given this type of eruption.

Updated 11pm 27/9: Dantesque scenes tonight as the reactivation is producing much more fluid lava flows which are now just 300m from the sea. No-one is now guessing whether or not it’ll reach the coast tonight but locals are still locked down because of the fear of noxious gases when lava meets water. La Palma airport meanwhile has been given up on: all flights are off and the island is reachable only via ferry to Santa Cruz de la Palma port. Last night was terrible. This one’s horrendous. As many are saying tonight: Ánimo, Isla Bonita.

Updated 8pm, 27/9: And this is activity at 8pm …

Updated 7.30pm, 27/9: It’s back to normal tonight …

Updated 5pm, 27/9: Pevolca committee confirms that today’s behaviour is normal within the context that volcanos have phases of activity within eruptions. The lava stream is now around 800m from the sea, so since last night’s panicked lockdown, it has only covered half the distance to the sea. Nonetheless, people remain confined to their homes in the areas affected in case lava should reach the sea and release noxious gases. Binter for its part has had a hellish day with La Palma airport and it has closed and reopened more than once. The advice to anyone flying within or to/from the Canaries is to check with airlines before departure.

Updated 11.15am, 27/9: And volcanic activity has resumed. Involcan says that since around 11am lava is again being emitted from the main cone and the cloud has returned.

Updated 27 September – Eruption Day 9: And then it went quiet. After a flurry of panicked activity last night, lockdown orders issued because the Todoque lava stream was going to reach the sea … it didn’t. It was slowed down by Todoque montaña, its present state is being monitored by flights over it this morning. Involcan is meanwhile measuring the volcanic tremor which, they say, has virtually disappeared in the last few hours along with any sign of explosive Strombolian activity. It is eerily quiet but this, they advise, is unlikely to be the end of the eruption but rather a new phase: this is indicated by an concomitant reactivation of seismic activity to the south. The difference, in lay terms, appears to be between the rhythmic eruptive drumbeat – volcanic tremor – and earthquakes – seismic activity.

Graphic: Involcan

All Canarian airports are open and operating fully but Aena says that disruption is always possible, especially for La Palma airport and therefore all passengers should check with airlines before leaving home as to the status of their proposed flight.

Updated 11.45pm, 26/9: This is likely to be some night. The lava has now passed Todoque, as we saw earlier it consumed the church that had withstood it thus far. Now, the lava flow is just over 1.5km from the sea, and expected to reach the coast tonight. As a result, Pevolca has ordered the lockdown of the areas of San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa because of the possibility of noxious gases. People must stay indoors and be attentive to the instructions issued by the authorities. Keep doors and windows closed. There will be further information and clarity tomorrow.

Updated 11.30pm, 26/9: Finally tonight, in case anyone sees it here and not on my twitter, anyone in La Palma within 5km of the emission centre … take precautions tonight against possibility of shattered windows from shockwaves. Tape them up as advised.

Updated 11pm, 26/9: Incredible images tonight, live from Canarian TV …

Updated 9pm, 26/9: In a day of rockfalls, church towers falling, this is the image that shows the active nightmare La Palma is living …  from Involcan, a lava “fountain”.

Updated 6pm, 26/9: It would have been a miracle symbol, but it wasn’t to be. Bomberos had to abandon Todoque, as I posted in the 3pm, 24/9 update, and sadly, the church has now fallen.

Updated 5pm, 26/9: This is like something from a movie about seeking life on another planet! This isn’t a Matt Damon film, though, but scientists, suited up with breathing apparatus and more, taking samples to determine what’s coming out of the volcano that they are so close to.

Updated 4pm, 26/9: Video from Involcan of some eruptive activity around 1.30 this lunchtime. You can clearly see boulders being chucked out like pebbles! Meanwhile, Binter says La Palma airport’s open again, not sure how long it will remain so, and emergency services are letting some people back to their homes. The general impression is of stability within a chaotic evolution … everyone is waiting to see what happens but life continues as and where it can, as near to normal as it can get in these extraordinary scenes.

Photo: Involcan

Updated 3pm, 26/9: Pevolca’s scientific committee has highligted the need to wear protective measures when collecting ash, using FFP2 masks and goggles: Involcan says that there are now receptacles for what’s collected (image left). The committee estimates the rate of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions into the atmosphere from yesterday’s eruptive process at over 28,000 tons, which they say is relatively high. Gas and ash emissions exceeded 4,000m altitude but air quality generally is classified as “good”. Having said that, ash has already reached other parts of the Canaries, with picon falling as far away as La Palma’s capital, Santa Cruz, and there have been rockfalls from a cliff near the port of Tazacorte midway along the west coast: at present IGN haven’t confirmed a tremor there so the immediate cause is unclear but scientists stress that despite sensationalist social media posts, it’s a rockfall, not the port itself nor indeed Cumbre Vieja that is collapsing!

Updated 26 September – Eruption Day 8: The night has passed without particular incident other than vents merging and the lava flow affecting various roads and areas. This morning more explosive activity has resumed, with a new cluster of earthquakes that indicates further magma intrusion under Cumbre Vieja. Aena says that all Canarian airports are now operating mainly without incident, La Palma reopening around 11am this morning after the ash that had covered the concourse and runway had been cleared (a massive job yesterday), but travellers should check with airlines before departing; the same message has been issued by Enaire too to international visitors. As IGN said earlier when reporting the new earthquake swarm, let’s see what today brings … 

Updated 4pm, 25/9: Staggering drone footage here from 112Canarias flying over the eruption.

Updated 3pm, 25/9: The Pevolca scientific committee says that with the increased activity yesterday and the formation of two further vents in the last 24 hours which have now merged into a single boca, the volcanic cone has broken and left an “enormous stream of lava” heading towards the sea. As we saw with the two new streams last evening, the lava is fast moving, and scientists say that this is because it is more viscous being hotter from greater depth. Volcanologists have stressed that the public should be reassured that this is part of the eruptive process and does not represent any particular new peril or any partiularly odd behaviour which, they assure us, is normal for Strombolian activity.

Updated 1pm, 25/9: There is now a new vent in one of the two original fissures, this one in Montaña Rajada to the west of the original.

Updated 25 September – Eruption Day 7: It’s a week now, and concerns are heightened today by worries about the stability of the eruptive cone. Explosivity reduced last night thanks to the two new vents releasing fast-flowing lava but today those residents newly evacuated have been told they cannot return home to collect their immediate personal possessions until the Pevolca security committee has ascertained the latest situation and the risk level involved. Reassuringly, however, Spain’s national Toxicology Institute has confirmed that there is no current health risk from the ash and gas emissions. As previously stressed, however, anyone cleaning and removing debris needs to protect their eyes and skin.

The situation remains chaotic and evolving, and residents still in their homes in the area are being asked to tape up their windows as one might see in films of wartime air raid preparations in order to prevent them shattering in the event of further blast shockwaves. Air traffic is somewhat disrupted regionally and all travellers, whether regional, national or international, are advised to check with their airlines before leaving home. Fred Olsen, for its part, has increased ferry capacity in order to facilitate transport of essential and emergency services. Meanwhile, all eyes are on that cone. They may be distracted by the flowing lava and shaken by the volcanic shockwaves, but they’re watching that cone all that time in scenes today, courtesy of Involcan, that are reminiscent of Mordor.

Updated 9pm, 24/9: Emergency services say that there are now two new vents though only in one of the original two fissures. These new vents, however, are emitting lava flows at high velocity and causing larger fragments to be thrown considerable distances along with pyroclastic ash flows. The two new streams are clearly visible on this video, and we can just be thankful that the explosivity has reduced this evening thanks to the release of this lava.

Updated 5pm, 24/9:La Gomera airport now closed.

Updated 4.30pm, 24/9: There is considerably more explosive activity now and a further vent has opened since the last update. There is a pretty significant increase in the range of pyroclastic material and intense ash being ejected, and instability on one of the flanks of the volcano due to accumulation of pyroclastic material. As a consequence, under PEVOLCA, the residents of Tajuya and Tacande de Abajo and de Arriba who had been confined to their houses are now being evacuated.

Updated 3pm, 24/9: Explosivity has increased quite a bit this afternoon. Bomberos have been forced to retreat from Todoque because of increased danger and falling piroclastic debris- that barrio is now at the mercy of the volcano. Some mighty explosions have been heard in the last hour, the shockwaves actually visible. Those who haven’t been evacuated in the areas of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo, and Tacande de Arriba are now confined to their houses by official order. Binter and Iberia have just cancelled all La Palma flights: official advice for anyone coming to or leaving the Canaries is to check with your airlines.

Updated 2.30pm, 24/9: So we know what we’re looking at (when we can see it through the general cloud and haze), from Aemet’s Atmospheric Dynamics expert J.J. González Alemán comes this explanation of the convection above the eruption. As González Alemán explains, the pirocumulus cloud can be distinguished very well from the actual plume of ash (cenizas).

Updated 2pm, 24/9: It’s obvious that people will be inclined to post the more dramatic footage of the scenes coming out of La Palma but the Colegio Oficial Psicología (the professional psychologists guild) has asked the public not to share on social media their photos or videos of properties collapsing. Clearly everyone wants to take part in reporting what’s going on but such scenes, psychologists say, are extremely hard for people to see when it’s their own homes in videos posted by others, and of course social media is such that they then see them shared as well. The mental health professionals ask please don’t do this, and please share the request for those doing it to stop.

Updated 12.30pm, 24/9: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has announced emergency relief for anyone who has lost their home (habitual residence specifically) or livelihood in La Palma due to the eruption. In the measures he spoke of, Sánchez also confirmed a Reconstruction Plan for the island. The PM said that the whole of the island of La Palma was going to be declared a Disaster Area which would allow fast aid to arrive to help with immediate needs for accommodation, provision of basic supplies, restoration of communication networks, as well as specific measures for the complete disruption and devastation of swathes of employment.

Updated 24 September- Eruption Day 6: The eruption became considerably more explosive last night, and this morning the authorities have confirmed that presently at least 600 acres in a perimeter of around 16 km have been affected, with the eruptive plume now reaching between 4,500m and 8,000m at different points, an altitude that experts say represents no health risk. On the ground, there are now two active lava flows, the northernmore one at a maximum height of 12m almost stationary while its southern partner, 10m high, continues to advance slowly at around 4-5kmh. Regional and international flights, airports and airspace are operating normally, say Binter, Aena and Enaire, but protocols are established in the event that air traffic becomes affected and everyone is monitoring, watching and waiting, with no guarantee that the lack of disruption will be maintainable and all travellers are now being advised to check with their airlines before leaving home.

While posting, I’ll just add that there are many requests for assistance in La Palma, naturally. But please know that all authorities are now saying they don’t need any more clothes. In fact, they have so many clothes donations they are asking the public not to bring any more. They need food supplies for food boxes for people, and obviously financial donations to official sources are welcome.

Updated 1pm, 23/9: And this is how it’s done. That little figure in the front, in trainers, t-shirt and chinos, talking to the emergency services, is the Queen of Spain. Her husband, the King of Spain no less, stands behind her, and behind him the Prime Minister, both in jeans. No show of finery or pomp and circumstance. Natural and real. I am no royalist as I’ve said before but these people are showing one way in which monarchies can remain real … and in Spain, that’s a pun …

Photo: Ministerio de Interior

Updated 23 Sepember – Eruption Day 5: The stream of lava still hasn’t made it to the sea and some wonder if it will manage to get there or solidify in the area of Todoque which yesterday lived through hell. At present the lava has stopped at a roundabout to one side of which stands the local church, untouched, but the lava is still moving very very slowly, devouring all in its path. Last night saw a further increase of eruptive activity and today the volcanic plume now reaches an altitude of 4.2km. The wind has shifted direction slightly, and is now heading in a more easterly than south-easterly direction, residents in Mazo reporting a light covering of ash and debris on their cars and buildings this morning: if it continues this easterly direction we will get some in Tenerife too, perhaps much later today. Experts say that this ash should be cleaned up as a priority whenever we see it on our property because it is dangerous for people, animals, and practically dangerous for driving too. BUT it should be cleared away with care and without water in case it solidifies: cleaning advice is therefore to wear gloves and goggles, and dispose of it in closed plastic bags. Apart from the ash, however, what is not appearing, thankfully, is the acid rain, but that remains a possibility, especially if that lava flow does actually reach the sea.

Those who have lost their homes to the lava are expected to be rehoused shortly, moving on from emergency accommodation to a new stage in their sad new world. The La Palma Cabildo says that it expects them to be moved to tourist apartments and residential home accommodation later today. Meanwhile, PM Pedro Sánchez arrived back in La Palma around 10.30 this morning from his unavoidable UN appearance in New York last evening, and has called for the banks to make available their stocks of repossessed and investment properties for human beings who actually need somewhere to live. His call has been echoed by opposition leader Pablo Casado (PP). They have no power to force the banks, of course, and it is probably ineffectual to call on their better nature, but the call has to be made for politically rhetorical reasons, hence Casado having to mirror Sánchez’ call. Today, the King and Queen are in La Palma to see with their own eyes the devastation caused by the eruption and to try to offer whatever consolation their presence and support can provide. The real power in the island, however, continues to be nature itself, to which all eyes are turned and upon which all hopes are pinned.

Updated 22 September – Eruption Day 4: Aemet spokesman Rubén del Campo has said that east and north Tenerife could experience acid raid from the La Palma eruption later today. Aemet is currently working out various parameters of direction, speed and pollutants with regard to the cloud the eruption is emitting and we will have confirmed and more specific detail later. It’s presumably unnecessary for some and pointless for others to hear that sulphur dioxide/acid rain does not bring anything positive for human health and we should stay indoors if it rains right now.

While we await specifics, Involcan says that it took measurements yesterday to evaluate and monitor the amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2) emitted into the atmosphere by the current eruptive process at Cumbre Vieja. The results obtained for this third day of the eruption reflect a SO2 emission rate of between 6,140 and 11,500 tonnes per day, assuming that the wind speed at 3,000 metres yesterday was between 2.2 and 4.2 metres per second (via AEMET). As yesterday, the estimation was made from several transects of measurements with remote miniDOAS type optical sensors in both mobile and ground positions. The linear SO2 concentrations (ppm.m) recorded by ground observations are equivalent to those recorded by the TROPOMI satellite observations, but the SO2 emission results obtained from ground observations are underestimated when observing the large size of the SO2 plume recorded by the TROPOMI satellite observations.

Updated 9pm, 21/9: Live feed from Canarian TV of what is now considered the most active spell of the original eruption. Described as Strombolian in type, this latest increase in activity was so sudden that initially a new vent was thought to have formed but it was the original vent reactivating … and how.

and another live feed from TV La Palma:

Updated 7pm, 21/9: Unimaginable … until it becomes reality. A wall of burning lava devouring people’s homes … this is in the valle de Aridane.  

Updated 2pm, 21/9: Clio and I hear from Barbara Belt “on the ground” in La Palma, with her report close to where the volcano is erupting. We discuss science, safety, and what might happen next. It’s HERE.

Photo:: Guardia Civil

Updated 21 September: A torrid night last night saw further strong tremors and another vent opening and forcing yet more evacuations. This morning, Involcan has issued an update on the emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere on the second day of the current eruption process at Cumbre Vieja. Involcan says that results reflect an SO2 emission rate of between 7,997 and 10,665 tonnes per day, assuming a wind speed yesterday of 4.2 to 5.5m per second at an altitude of 3,000m (as confirmed by Aemet). The estimation was made with measurements taken by remote miniDOAS optical sensors in air and ground mounted mobile positions.

Involcan explains that daily monitoring of this parameter will be fundamental to analyse the evolution of the current process and to enable them to certify the eruption’s end. The values obtained during the second day of this eruptive process (8,000-10,500 tonnes per day) are similar and even slightly higher than the values recorded for the first day of the eruption (6,000-9,000 tonnes per day). These results are consistent with the first 48 hours of evolution of this eruptive process with the appearance of a new point of emission of magmatic material in Tacande, an area of the municipality of El Paso (La Palma).

The SO2 emission results obtained from ground-based observations are consistent with the satellite observations recorded by TROPOMI, the satellite instrument on board the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite. Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) is the first of the atmospheric composition Sentinels, launched on 13 October 2017.

Clio and I will be discussing the eruption in a CanaryCast later today.

Updated 5pm, 20/9: These spectacular images of La Palma from a lifeboat patrolling the no-sail zone to the island’s SW give a slightly different perspective of the eruption. It and other craft will stay there to monitor the waters, and ensure that no sightseers take to the waves for a view as if the volcano were a fiesta’s fireworks. In this respect, there is considerable furore today over the national tourism minister’s comments yesterday that the eruption would be good for the island commercially.

Reyes Maroto’s words were condemned by many environmentalists and social commenters as houses were burning and being consumed by the lava flow. Her words infuriated those trying to deal with the logistical nightmare on the ground, but online evidence including attempts to get flights from Gran Canaria to La Palma show that she wasn’t wrong. Clearly, given the opporunity, people seem intent on satisfying their own curiosity regardless of all else, including others’ misery.

In terms of the eruption itself, when the lava stream reaches the sea there should be a cloud of acid rain comprising sulphur dioxide. This is being emitted now by the eruption and forms part of the cloud that is spreading over La Gomera, along the west coast of Tenerife and which is already reaching south Gran Canaria. Involcan director Nemesio Pérez says that its level will be what determines if and when the eruption can be declared over. He thinks this could be more than a week but obviously the declaration of the end of the eruption will be based on criteria analysed from a range of continuously assessed scientific measurements.

Updated 2pm, 20/9: This is the very moment that the eruption started shortly after 3pm yesterday. Canarian TV was on the spot, waiting for it because it was much anticipated … but a journalist’s lot is to stand and wait, and sometimes to have your back to the main event when it happens! But what amazing footage, an historic day, as the commentary says.

Updated 1pm, 20/9: The Canarian Astrophysics Institute in La Palma has given us this Incredible timelapse of the eruption and its cloud through yesterday and last night, filmed from the Roque de los Muchachos observatory.

Updated 20 September: Scenes this morning, as the stream of lava heads down to the sea against the backdrop of the flames from the eruption. Binter says four LP flights have been cancelled and some delays caused but otherwise things are operating normally. The Spanish Airspace Agency Enaire has confirmed that international air travel remains unaffected but obviously the eruption is evolving and all authorities can do is refer to the situation at the present time. PEVOLCA’s science commitee is meeting at midday, and as we know, Canarian President Torres and Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez are both in La Palma right now overseeing the situation this morning.

Updated 11pm … incredible live footage while it lasts … it’s the noise that’s almost more appalling than the images!

Updated 10pm, 19/9: This is La Palma tonight. Several areas have now been evacuated, and the Guardia Civil say that around 5,000 people are being accommodated in Los Llanos de Aridane public buildings. There are eight vents in two fissures producing multiple flows moving at around 0.5km per hour with internal temperatures of 1,075ºC, they say. The military emergencies unit has set out for La Palma, leaving Los Cristianos in Tenerife from where the eruption’s cloud is clearly visible though some are struggling to distinguish it from the general cloudiness around at present, but it is a clear pyroclastic column. The Guardia Civil have confirmed this evening that airspace remains open, and is operating normally. Spanish PM Sánchez is now in La Palma, and staying for at least a coordination meeting in the morning: as he says, we are all now awaiting nature’s developments, and once again in debt to the scientists.

Updated 7.30pm, 19/9: The Guardia Civil says that they’ve started evacuating El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte in advance of the lava flow. Up to 10,000 are expected to need evacuation.

 Updated 7pm, 19/9: Red alert for La Palma issued by the Canarian Government. You can follow the eruption live on Canarian TV HERE. Sadly some dwellings have already been destroyed.

Updated 5pm, 19/9: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has said that he is heading to the Canaries, in view of the seismic evolution, to get first-hand information on the situation in La Palma, the coordination of the system and the protocols activated. The PM is already on his way and says that his planned visit to the USA to attend the current UN General Assembly. has been postponed. In La Palma itself, the usual rubbernecking has started and so the authorities have called on the public who aren’t in the eruption area to stay away from it. This is why … the area can’t even be reached safely let alone offer safety when there. There are now five vents.

Meanwhile, Binter says that it is following the eruption’s evolution closely. At present flights are operating normally albeit with some delays but one flight has had to return to TFN because it was unable to land in La Palma. Binter says they’re following the information and instructions provided by the relevant air authorities. There’s no current information about possible problems for international flights. For those interested in live footage, Canarian TV is running regular live broadcasts while specialists here are wondering quite what it would take for the national channels even to show an interest! Here’s some more local footage:

Updated 3.15pm, 19/9: An eruption has started on La Palma in the last five minutes, in the area of Cabeza de Vaca. The Tenerife and Gran Canaria Cabildos have sent detachments of bomberos, emergency vehicles and support workers, and the La Palma Cabildo has now closed certain roads (jurisdiction is divided depending on the type of road, the Cabildo in charge of main roads, eg between towns). Here are images from around 3pm of the start of the eruption which is apparently emerging from two vents at present.

Updated 19 September: Seismic acitvity has increased again with one of the most recent tremors registering over mag 4 with videos posted by volcanologists and meteorologists of rockfalls this morning. The alert level remains at yellow but they seem clearly now to be anticipating some sort of surface acivity, with local volcanologists saying they can easily see the alert level rising to orange soon. Pedro Sánchez has confirmed that the national Government is aware of the situation and is coordinating support, and the Canarian Government has initiated some precautionary evacuations of the disabled in areas at risk. At very local level, the ayuntamientos have also taken appropriate measures including the closure of some roads and suspension of municipal acivities.

The scientific committee overseeing the Canarian Volcanic Emergency Plan (Plan de Emergencias Volcánicas de Canarias: PEVOLCA) is meeting again later today. It comprises experts from the National Geographic Institute (IGN), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), the Spanish Geological and Mining Institute (IGME), the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO), and the Universities of La Laguna and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The committee has indicated that much current seismic activity is occurring at a depth of no more than 8 km – very near the surface. Many tremors have been felt by the public now and there are numerable reports of noises and vibrations associated with surface seismicity.

La Palma is, they say, currently experiencing the maximum seismic activity since this cluster started, and it’s increasing. Deformation is now 15cm, a 5cm growth in the last 24 hours, with the centre of pressure coincident with the area where the earthquakes are felt on the surface: Las Manchas and Jedey. To assist the scientists, the public is asked to inform the authorities if they see any anomalous activity as the process evolves. Currently, the Canarian Government classifies La Palma as in a pre-eruptive phase, increasing the chances that it will culminate in an eruption, though without a clear idea of timescale. The public is reminded to be alert and pay heed to official and trusted channels of communication because regular updates will be released.

Official advice for anyone who feels an earthquake indoors is to take cover under a door frame or a solid piece of furniture, such as a table, and stay away from windows. Don’t use lifts, and if you have to leave your home, turn off water, electricity and gas. Outside, move away from tall buildings, lamp posts, advertising boards, etc. and if you are near the sea, move away from the shore. In the event of an evacuation, ayuntamientos will advise the evacuation routes and established assembly points. Evacuate only when given instructions to do so. As a precautionary measure, choose a family member or friend as a point of reference to let them know where you are going in case of evacuation and make sure the rest of your family knows. If you live with disabled people who need a special evacuation (ambulance), notify the Social Affairs department of the municipality.

The standard international emergency routines also apply here, and the Canarian Government specifies them. Have a means of communication available, preferably a mobile phone with charger, as well as a battery-operated radio, torch, candles and spare batteries, and follow the instructions given by the competent authorities. Evacuation communication will be carried out via mobile public address system with Local Police, TV and radio broadcasting, and official and trusted social media. Make sure you have enough medication for family members who need it on a regular basis. It is advisable to keep the personal documents of the whole family and the household in a folder. Keep bottled water available because drinking supplies may be affected. Keep a dry foods larder, with basic, non-perishable food able to sustain a household for a few days. All adults should know how to turn off gas, water and electricity because these must be turned off if evacuated. If possible, keep car tanks full because petrol stations might be closed.

Those with agricultural responsibilities like farm animals should get in touch with their local Agricultural Extension Agency or the Cabildo to find out what the arrangements are. The official line on anyone with livestock who is required to evacuate and cannot take their animals too is that they should leave them loose, not tied up or enclosed. Those with pets should entrust their care to family or friends outside the areas at risk. If that is impossible, the authorities will take care of them while their owners are away from home. For hygiene reasons they cannot be kept in shelters.

Finally, please remember that 112 is an emergency telephone number – for emergencies only. If you require any general information about the situation, you should call 012 or get information from the media.

Updated 18 September: Seismic activity has reduced somewhat and, as we saw yesterday, the public and media furore over a possible Cumbre Vieja landslide and resulting megatsunami has been roundly dismissed with great scientific rigour and detail. Nonetheless, volcanologists say that this does not reduce the risk of seismic and eruptive developments in La Palma and close monitoring and analysis continues because land deformation, tremor frequency and intensity are changing rapidly. One tremor in the early hours of this morning indeed, was pretty sizable at 3.2 magnitude, and almost at the very surface, at a depth of around just 100m, and experts say that it is the tremors nearer the surface that are often more damaging to material property.

The insular authorities have approved contingency evacuation plans and have called two meetings today, 18 September, to inform residents in the areas of Las Manchas de Abajo, San Nicolás, Jedey, La Bombilla, El Remo and Puerto de Naos about the volcanic risk alert. The first, at 6pm is for residents of Las Manchas de Abajo, San Nicolás and Jedey. The second is at 7.30pm for residents of La Bombilla, El Remo and Puerto de Naos. Both will be held in the Federico Simón Canarian Wrestling Stadium.

Updated 17 September: Following sensationalist rumours on social media above all, I think, INVOLCAN’s Geological Hazards Director Luis González de Vallejo has issued the following statement HERE … I’ve translated to English below:

The recent volcanic reactivation on La Palma has once again raised the hot topic of the stability of the island’s western flank and, in particular, of the Cumbre Vieja volcanic edifice, a running issue over decades causing concern in society.

Ever since some researchers suggested 20 years ago the possibility of a major collapse of the western flank of Cumbre Vieja and, as a consequence, the generation of a megatsunami, fears of such a catastrophic event have been widespread. Despite this hypothesis being refuted and subsequently discarded by numerous researchers, some media outlets surprisingly continue to talk about this catastrophic event of a large gravitational landslide of the west flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

This hypothesis involved the existence of a surface of geological weakness of great length, extension, and depth, consisting of a basal layer formed by materials from previous landslides, the so-called mortalón, and the presence of an almost vertical fracture with an approximately north-south direction, tens of kilometres long and several kilometres deep, which would limit the alleged Cumbre Vieja landslide on the east side.

The mortalón layer has been verified in numerous galleries, shafts, tunnels and boreholes. Neither the continuity nor the depth of the large fracture has been verified, so that the conditions on which the landslide theory is mainly based are no more than a simple hypothesis. However, if we take into account the resistant properties of the mortalón, the current geometry of the island, the geological structure, the inclination of the layers, etc., Cumbre Vieja would be stable even in the face of future eruptive episodes and associated seismicity, according to the geomechanical models and stability analyses carried out, where magma injection pressures, seismic accelerations, the influence of interstitial pressures, etc., have been taken into account.

For the Cumbre Vieja flank to reach conditions even approaching instability, an exceptionally high magnitude earthquake and an equally strongly explosive volcanic eruption would have to occur simultaneously, or else the current volcanic edifice would have to reach at least a thousand metres above the current maximum elevation in its natural growth. It would take more than 40,000 years to reach that height based on the average growth rate of the island over the last million years. On the other hand, the probability of a high-explosive eruption occurring at the same time as a major earthquake is extremely remote, according to the geological record of such events on the island. Therefore, Cumbre Vieja is stable, even under the effects of eruptions similar to those that have occurred in the last tens of thousands of years.

These results are part of several research projects on large gravitational landslides and megatsunamis, in which researchers from the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (INVOLVCAN) have played an important role.

Luis González de Vallejo

Director del Área de Riesgos Geológicos del INVOLCÁN, Catedrático Honorífico de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)

Updated 16 September: The Canarian Volcanological Institute says that there has been a “significant volcanic ground deformation in recent days” in the Cumbre Vieja area. The Institute reports that this reflects the pressurization of a small magmatic reservoir of approximately 11 million m³ within Cumbre Vieja at a depth of around 6 km. The Institute’s observations confirm that the recent cluster of over 4,000 tremors which started on Saturday 11 September is magmatic in origin, and that the tremors are increasing in intensity. Monitoring continues and the alert level for the municipalities of El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane, Mazo and Fuencaliente remains at yellow but experts say that seismic activity could increase further in coming days, depending on the evolution of the activity. We’ve been here before, and it has all died away again, but as the volcanologists say themselves, an eruption is a case of when, not if.

Original post 13 September: Low grade earth tremors occur all the time in these islands, and it’s something to be thankful for because in the process they release volcanic pressure. Often there are seismic clusters which are reported as anomalous but within safe parameters, and sometimes there are eruptions that are anything but spectacular, causing rubbly runs of what looks like fruit cake mix or, sometimes, new “islands” appear that quickly get the name of Roque in some form because that’s pretty much all they are. Only very rarely, however, do we get a yellow alert for anything other than weather, but they do exist, and one has just been issued for volcanic activity in La Palma.

That island is, of course, famous for being the focus of tabloid stories trumpeting the nature and peril of Cumbre Vieja, said to contain water as well as magma and so capable of acting as a boiler whose steam-fuelled explosion would cause the collapse of a chamber wall, a subsequent major landslip falling into the ocean to create a tsunami to wipe out the eastern seaboard of the United States, with untold damage caused to anything getting in the way, like the southern English coast.

Naturally these stories are built up to fulfil the two main tabloid motivations, to titillate and horrify, but at the root of their story is the fact that La Palma does indeed have an old peak and there is potential for something to happen to it, albeit in timescales that are geological eras longer than newspaper headlines imply. But at the moment, it is in the Cumbre Vieja area that the latest cluster of tremors has been recorded, and they have increased in magnitude and have been felt by the public. The yellow alert refers to volcanic activity that could affect the areas of Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso, Fuencaliente and Mazo, and residents in those areas should be alert to any information released by the authorities through established and trusted channels.

The authorities stress that the volcanic alert system has four levels, and that the yellow alert is the lowest. It reflects the registration of volcanic activity that requires intensified information to be provided to the public and for vigilance measures to be put in place, but represents no actual risk to the public.