Teneguía volcano in La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands erupted on Sunday at 3.15pm in the Montaña Rajada mountains in the municipality of El Paso. A small tremor hit the Las Manchas neighborhood before the volcano spewed out a great column of smoke and pyroclastic material. The magma caused two cracks in the mountain to open up, which both contained lava flows.
The eruption follows a series of constant small tremors, known as an earthquake swarm, which began on September 11 in Cumbre Vieja national park in the south of the island. The fast process, which has been releasing large amounts of energy, sparked the eruption in Teneguía, which is the youngest volcano located on the surface in Spain, and has not been active since 1971. The eruption on Sunday occurred in an uninhabited mountainous area, sparking small forest fires. The population with reduced mobility in nearby areas was evacuated before the volcano erupted.
After two days of calm, the seismic activity in La Palma resumed Sunday morning with several earthquakes that were felt by the population – the largest measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale – a clear sign that a volcanic eruption was imminent.
The tremors measuring 2 on the Richter scale hit one after the other at depths increasingly close to the surface in El Paso. According to the National Geographic Institute (IGN), three of these quakes were felt by residents on the island. Since the earthquake swarm began on September 11, IGN has recorded more than 6,600 small quakes in the Cumbre Vieja area.
On Monday, September 13, authorities decided to put the area on yellow alert – the second highest of the four-tiered system – for the risk of a volcanic eruption. Under this alert level, the population must be prepared and informed of the risk – a task that has been carried out over the last few days. Several meetings were held to discuss the situation with locals and evacuation plans were created in the case that the alert level rose to orange or red, with soccer fields set as meeting points. The yellow alert affected the municipalities of Fuencaliente, Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso and Villa de Mazo, with around 35,000 people affected in total.
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