La Palma: Volcano emitting thousands of tons of sulphur dioxide

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The Cumbre Viejo volcano on La Palma is emitting thousands of tons of sulphur dioxide, measuring the poisonous gas will be key to predicting when the eruption might end.

The volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma is emitting between 7,997 and 10,665 tons of sulphur dioxide (SO2) per day into the atmosphere, according to data from the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands.

The institute said that daily monitoring of the gas will be essential to analyse the evolution of the eruption and to predict when it may end.

The eruption could last “several weeks, if not a few months,” the director of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands, Nemedio Perez, warned on September 20.

Scientists are studying the volcano’s sulphur dioxide emissions to understand when the eruption might end. “The first day we calculated between 6,000 and 9,000 tons, a reasonable amount, we have seen greater amounts. A downward trend will be indicative that the eruption is waning. When 48 have passed without any emission of sulphur dioxide, we can take it as finished,” said Perez.

More than 5,500 people have been evacuated, dozens of homes and at least one school have been destroyed by the volcanic eruption.

Although the lava was expected to reach the coast in the evening on September 20, it has yet to do so and scientists warn that it may occur today.

When that happens, explosions, toxic gas and acid rain are expected to engulf the area.

The Spanish Merchant Navy has temporarily prohibited navigation in the areas close to the volcanic eruption in La Palma.


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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