When molten rock eventually meets the Atlantic Ocean, it could trigger explosions releasing toxic gas but Spain's Canary Islands authorities do not expect large disruptions on the coast on account of the lava’s speed.
Lava flowing from an erupting volcano in Spain's Canary Islands has picked up pace on its way to the sea and is now within about 800 metres of the shoreline.
While one of two rivers of lava has slowed on La Palma, the other was hotter and more fluid and was bearing down on the small town of Todoque, where people have been evacuated from, the Canary Islands emergency volcano response department said on Tuesday.
After calming down on Monday, the volcano became more explosive again overnight.
Officials have for days been expecting the lava to reach the Atlantic Ocean, but the eruption has been erratic.
When the molten rock eventually meets the seawater it could trigger explosions and the release of toxic gas, though authorities say they don’t expect the slow-moving lava to create large disruption on the coast.
La Palma, home to about 85,000 people, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands, an archipelago off northwest Africa.
The island is roughly 35 kilometres (22 miles) long and 20 kilometres (12 miles) wide at its broadest point.
Lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. A volcano on a small Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean erupted on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. pic.twitter.com/CKx3ygb4T0— Emilio Morenatti (@EmilioMorenatti) September 23, 2021
Lava from the eruption, which began on September 19, has destroyed 589 buildings and 21 kilometres (13 miles) of roads on La Palma.
The lava now covers 258 hectares (637 acres), mostly farmland, according to a European Union satellite monitoring agency.
No fatalities or serious injuries have been reported since the volcano’s eruption, thanks to prompt evacuations.
The volcano has so far spewed out more than 46 million cubic metress (1.6 billion cubic feet) of molten rock, according to the Canary Island Volcanology Institute.