Dramatic Videos Show La Palma Volcano Erupting in Spain's Canary Islands

A volcano erupted on Sunday on La Palma in the Canary Islands—a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwest Africa. Dramatic videos of the event showed several aspects of the eruption, including lava and ash spewing out of the ground.

La Palma's local government reported the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano at around 3:30 p.m. local time on Sunday after seismologists had recorded a series of tremors. The strongest of these tremors measured 4.2 in magnitude.

Scientists observed an increase in seismic activity in the days preceding the eruption. On Friday last week the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) said that it had, at some points, recorded more than 400 earthquakes in a single hour.

On Saturday, Involcan reported a total of more than 25,000 earthquakes in the area over the previous nine days.

And prior to the eruption on Sunday, the agency said the "current seismic swarm represents a significant change in the activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano."

Local authorities warned residents of the increased risk of an eruption on Saturday. And in the hours before the eruption, they announced the temporary closure of public recreational spots, while also ordering the precautionary evacuation of people with disabilities from certain areas.

One video released by Involcan shows the volcano after the eruption started on Sunday. A plume of ash can be seen spewing out of the ground.


— INVOLCAN (@involcan) September 19, 2021

The aerial footage below was captured by Spain's Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, showing the smoke and lava spewing from the site of the eruption.

📹Imágenes tomadas esta tarde por el avión de coordinación y observación (ACO) @mitecogob en la zona de la #ErupciónLaPalma para la monitorización y el seguimiento de la actividad volcánica pic.twitter.com/TZ9x5qDV3h

— 1-1-2 Canarias (@112canarias) September 19, 2021

Video captured by Spain's National Geographic Institute (IGN) shows a stream of lava flowing across a road on the island on Sunday, blocking off the route.

👉El nivel de Alerta declarado se ha subido a naranja.

Mostramos otro video grabado por compañeros de #IGNSpain en #ErupciónLaPalma.

👉No desplazarse a las zona afectadas

@mitmagob #PEVOLCA pic.twitter.com/IHyQ0TxGEk

— IGN-CNIG (@IGNSpain) September 19, 2021

The Guardia Civil—one of Spain's two national law enforcement agencies—also captured dramatic footage of the eruption using helicopter crews. These images show the extent of the ash plume and the lava flowing down the mountainside.

Los medios aéreos de la ⁦@guardiacivil⁩ llevan todo el día aportando sus capacidades en la zona

Así se veía esta tarde la #ErupciónLaPalma desde uno de sus helicópteros pic.twitter.com/SStLj1Fiqk

— Ministerio del Interior (@interiorgob) September 19, 2021

Finally, footage captured by an Involcan team shows lava from the eruption glowing brightly after night had fallen on the island on Sunday, as well as trees being consumed by flames. Scientists recorded lava temperatures of up to 1,967 degrees Fahrenheit.

Video made by our colleague María Asensio who is at one of the lava flows of the eruption ... goosebumps #LaPalmaeruption pic.twitter.com/XlFIOMQ1bi

— INVOLCAN (@involcan) September 19, 2021

Several Spanish government agencies have been involved in the response to the eruption, including Involcan, the La Palma local government, firefighters, police and military units from neighboring Canary Islands.

Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres told reporters at a press conference on Sunday night that 5,000 people had been evacuated and no injuries had been reported so far, according to Reuters.

Police said that as many as 10,000 people could be evacuated from areas surrounding the volcano.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupts
The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupts, spewing out columns of smoke and ash on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands on September 19, 2021. DESIREE MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images