WATCH | La Palma volcano's tremors stop, but eruption may not be at an end

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Constant tremors from La Palma's volcano stopped late on Monday but experts warned it didn't mean eruption is ending.
  • This has been the longest period seismic activity stopped in 85 days, when the eruption began.
  • The eruption is the longest running on the Island since records began in 1500.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma fell silent as constant tremors stopped late on Monday, though experts cautioned this did not necessarily mean the eruption is nearing an end after 85 days.

Seismic activity on the island all but stopped around 21:00 local time on Monday, The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute, Involcan, said on Tuesday. It's the longest period without tremors since the eruption began.

"This does not imply the eruption is ending, since on other occasions halts were followed by a renewed increase in activity," Involcan said on its twitter account.

It added footage of the Cumbre Vieja showing how the almost constant roaring of the volcano had ceased.

The eruption, which has sent rivers of molten lava running down the slopes of Cumbre Vieja for weeks, is the longest running on the Spanish Canary Island since records began in 1500.

The quiet on Monday evening and Tuesday morning followed the emission of dense toxic clouds of sulphur dioxide on Monday morning that prompted the lockdown of about a third of the island's population.

READ | Thousands locked down as La Palma volcano destroys cement works

Since the eruption began on 19 September, thousands of people have been evacuated, at least 2 910 buildings have been destroyed, and the main livelihood of the island, banana plantations, have been devastated.

Stavros Meletlidis, a volcanologist with the National Geographic Institute who has been following the eruption since it began, said there were multiple possible explanations and pointed out that pauses had been observed before.

Around a week after the eruption started, seismic activity suddenly dropped off for several hours before restarting with renewed vigour, a pattern that is not uncommon in the early stages of an eruption, he explained.

But after nearly three months of activity, the eruption is in a different phase and could be losing strength, he said.

"The magma needs energy to get to the surface and it seems that it does not have it at the moment," he said, explaining that could be due to a decline in levels of gases or magma volume as the eruption slowly loses force.

READ | More destruction feared in La Palma as lava pours from new volcano vent

However, it could be the result of a blockage between subterranean magma chambers and the surface vent, in which case pressure would continue to build up until reaching critical mass and causing fresh explosions.

"It's too early to tell if we're entering a terminal phase," he said.

Before declaring the eruption definitively over, scientists will be looking out for a period of at least 48 hours with no seismic activity or surface eruption, he said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Many companies are asking employees to return to office full time after years of remote/hybrid settings. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I can't wait to be back!
19% - 419 votes
No thanks, remote work is the future
23% - 496 votes
Hybrid is the best option to keep everyone happy
58% - 1278 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.