La Palma volcano

This item appears on page 5 of the November 2021 issue.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma, Canary Islands, began erupting on Sept. 19 and continued to at press time. Flowing lava destroyed hundreds of residences and other buildings, including a school. Seven villages downhill from erupting vents were evacuated, about 7,000 people in total.

Spanish airline Iberia as well as local Canaries airlines Binter and Canaryfly canceled all commercial flights to La Palma until further notice.

Officials also created an exclusion zone in areas of the sea in the path of the lava. When lava comes in contact with seawater, it creates a toxic mist called laze (a portmanteau of lava and haze), which contains hydrochloric acid and suspended volcanic ash particles. Steam explosions can also launch large pieces of rock hundreds of feet at dangerous speeds.

The Canary Islands has many active volcanoes with histories of eruptions. Cumbre Vieja last erupted in 1971.