Photo: DESIREE MARTIN / Getty Images
Ten days after erupting on La Palma, the lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano reached the Atlantic on Tuesday. Since then, an estimated 46 million cubic meters of lava have washed away roads, homes and churches in its path. until reaching the sea.
In almost two weeks, the Cumbre Vieja has already expelled more lava than the Teneguía in two months already 50 years ago. On its way to the sea, the magma took with it hundreds of houses in Todoque and La Laguna. Despite the emission of gases into the atmosphere due to the contact of the lava with the sea, experts indicate that this fact is not of much scientific relevance.
Magma is approximately at a temperature of 1,000 degrees centigrade and the Atlantic water, for the season, should not exceed 20 degrees today.
The contact between both liquids generates toxic gases since the water contains chlorides, carbonates, sulfates, iodine and fluorine. When water and lava come into contact, the first thing that will be released will be steam, but the chemical reaction between the aforementioned compounds and high temperatures can cause them to combine with water vapor, which would produce irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract of everyone who is close.
Faced with this threat, local authorities evacuated days before the population around Playa Nueva, place where lava and water were found.
So far, the lava has “consumed” 656 homes and has traveled more than 200 hectares for more than a week. More than 6,000 people have been evacuated, out of some 85,000 in total living on La Palma.