La Palma Volcano Goes Silent After Three Months of Daily Eruptions

After over three months of explosions and rivers of molten rock, eruptions on the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma have stopped.

La Palma is one of the islands belonging to the Canary Islands archipelago of Spain. The Canary Islands government said that ever since Monday, "volcanic activity has fallen to almost nothing." Some scientists are speculating that the proceeding 36 hours of silence signifies an end to the Cumbre Vieja eruption that has lasted for 87 days.

Some scientists are still exercising caution toward the lack of activity. Geology expert Valentin Troll told the Associated Press that the volcano has a history of "playing a few tricks," meaning that people should still be keeping an eye out for any dangerous behavior.

"But many parameters have now subsided," he said, "and I think the volcano is indeed in decline now."

According to National Geographic Institute spokeswoman and volcanologist María José Blanco, any activity at the volcano must still be observed for 10 days. If little activity is recorded, then they can consider the eruption to be over.

Many residents are bittersweet that an end is in sight for the eruption, which has displaced several thousand people.

"Being able to see the sun properly for the first time in nearly three months, sleeping at night without tremors, totally changes the picture," said 61-year-old resident Francisco Javier López. "But the future remains bleak."

Cumbre Vieja
Scientists believe the Cumbre Vieja volcano eruptions have stopped. The Cumbre Vieja volcano, pictured from El Paso, spews lava on the Canary island of La Palma on December 13. Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images

Some wisps of white smoke floated from the crater Wednesday morning. As the eruption petered out, scientists ventured out on foot to the lip of the crater to take up-close gas readings for the first time in three months.

The eruption, which began on September 19, is the longest on record on La Palma and has been a milestone for islanders, many of whom live from farming and tourism. The volcanic Canary Islands are a popular European vacation destination due to their mild climate.

No injuries or deaths have been directly linked to the La Palma eruption, and life has continued largely as normal on most of the island of 80,000 residents.

López lost his home of 30 years during the first few days of the eruption and said he is living in an overpriced rented apartment in a nearby village. The future of his paragliding business, which employed him and his wife, also evaporated as lava buried the takeoff and landing strips at the top of the Cumbre Vieja mountain range.

López complained that despite pledges of free accommodation, subsidies and financial aid from national, regional and local officials, almost nothing has actually reached the La Palma residents affected by the volcano.

"The volcano has taken away our houses, including our past and memories," he told the AP. "But politicians are taking away our future and our hope."

Fiery molten rock flowing from Cumbre Vieja down toward the sea has destroyed around 3,000 buildings. The fields of thick, black hardened lava have entombed banana plantations, ruined irrigation systems and cut off roads.

The hardened lava covers around 1,200 hectares (about 3,000 acres), according to the Canary Islands volcanic emergency unit, Pevolcan. Where the molten rock has poured into the Atlantic Ocean, rocky deltas have formed over 48 hectares (120 acres), Pevolcan said.

The eruption has drawn scientists from around the world to La Palma. They have been using cutting-edge technology to examine it from land, sea, air and even space.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

La Palma Ash
The La Palma eruptions began on September 19. A fissure is seen next to a house covered with ash on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain on December 1. AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, file

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