Lava from La Palma volcano is pouring continuously into the sea. According to new calculations, the magma, which first came int contact with the water yesterday evening around 11p.m. local timehas already covered between 5 to 10 hectares of the sea, building a new, 50-meter-high pyramid-shaped island.

Meanwhile, on the island, the molten rock has destroyed more than 744 buildings, as well as 21.5 kilometers of roads. On Wednesday there were major concerns about the connecting roads in the south of La Palma, such as those serving Puerto Naos and La Bombilla. Moreover, 476 hectares of land was buried.

According to a calculation by the real estate website Idealista, the cost of the destruction in terms of homes and plots of land could be as high as €206 million.

For now, the eruption of the volcano on La Palma “has not affected the air quality, which is perfectly breathable,” according to the island council, which added that measuring equipment had not detected any gases that could be dangerous to people’s health. Despite these good news, the council requested that residents of Tazacorte stay inside their homes, should any toxic gas be emitted and drifted over the island as the lava flows into the ocean.

After several days of deceleration, the lava reactivated on Sunday, speeding up its journey toward the sea. Until that point, the eruption had been strombolian, characterized by large explosions and a slow lava flow. At the start of the week, however, much more fluid lava started to emerge from the volcano, speeding up the arrival of the molten rock into the sea.

How is seismicity evolving under the volcano?

In the week leading up to the eruption there was a very intense seismicity on La Palma Island culminating in a 4,2-magnitude earthquake recorded on Sunday, September 19 at 11:16 p.m. Canary Time.

The following figures show the number of earthquakes automatically detected every hour and the magnitudes of seismic events that could be located.

earthquakes La Palma
Number of earthquakes in La Palma from September 1 to September 29
earthquakes La Palma
La Palma earthquake magnitudes

After the eruption, marked by a red line, there is a marked decline in the number of earthquakes detected.

However, that does not reflect a true decline in seismicity, but a lower ability to detect smaller earthquakes due to the strong signal of volcanic tremor that hides lower-magnitude earthquakes.

Since last September 10, the Canary Seismic Network has detected, on La Palma Island, about 29.000 earthquakes and located 1.754 of them, 19 in the last 24 hours.

In recent days, the hypocenters of localized earthquakes were generally at a depth of about 10 km, the same observed in the days leading up to the eruption. That may indicate new input of magma. It may also indicate that these earthquakes could be linked to an in-depth magmatic reservoir adjustment due to a decrease in pressure after expelling the magma content inside during the eruption.