Residents of Spain’s La Palma island prepared on Wednesday for the possibility of major earthquakes that could increase the damage caused by spreading lava more than five weeks after the volcano erupted. Seismologists said a 4.6-magnitude quake rocked the island a day after a 4.9-magnitude quake was recorded, the strongest of the hundreds that have struck under La Palma since the volcano’s September 19 eruption. .
So far, the earthquake under La Palma has either been fairly small or caused no damage except adding to the concern of the island’s residents. Tuesday’s quake was felt up to 60 miles (96 kilometers) away on three other stretches of the Canary Islands, an archipelago in northwest Africa.
The scientific committee has been warning for more than a week that we may be seeing earthquakes, given their recent depth of about 12 kilometers (7.4 mi) and their magnitude, which is up to a magnitude of 6 (on the Richter scale). Arrive, Mara Jose Blanco, director of the Spence National Geographic Institute on the Canary Islands, told Spanish national broadcaster RTVE.
Molten rock flows from the Cumbre Vieja volcano evacuated about 7,500 people and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings, mostly homes. Lava rivers cover more than 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of mostly agricultural land, while a major flow is pushing the island into the Atlantic as it cools.
There have been no deaths from the explosion. Life continues as normal except on the western side of the islands, clearing volcanic ash for La Palma’s 85,000 residents.
The last eruption on the island lasted 24 days in 1971. Its longest, in 1949, lasted 47 days. The current activity is on Day 39 and shows no signs of stopping.
The worst we saw was in the 1949 eruption, when a second volcanic mouth opened and cut off the southern part of the island, which was to be supplied by boat, said volcanologist Vicente Soler. This is very unlikely, though not impossible today.
Wilson reported from Barcelona.