La Palma Volcano Update As Video Shows Lava Hitting the Ocean

Lava from the La Palma volcanic eruption has reached the sea after several days of flowing over land, according to local officials.

The volcano, known as Cumbre Vieja, began erupting on September 19. La Palma is part of the Spanish Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

Since then, lava has flowed through the island destroying hundreds of buildings, causing thousands people to evacuate. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the official Twitter account of the Canary Islands government's Securities and Emergencies department, 1-1-2 Canarias, tweeted that the lava flow had reached the sea. It added: "If you are outside, find a safe place to take refuge."

🔴 #ErupciónLaPalma
📢 #Consejos #PEVOLCA

➡️ La lava ya ha llegado al mar. Si te encuentras en el exterior, busca un lugar seguro donde refugiarte. pic.twitter.com/G0b7n8XMxt

— 1-1-2 Canarias (@112canarias) September 28, 2021

And the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) said in a tweet on the same day: "Lava flow has reached the sea at Playa Nueva."

A video posted by the Spanish government's Ministry of Transport that same day appeared to show the lava falling into the water during the night.

Imágenes grabadas desde la salvamar Alphard de @salvamentogob, que permanece vigilando la zona de exclusión a la navegación. #ErupciónLaPalma pic.twitter.com/QkyI17jThr

— Ministerio Transportes, Movilidad y A. Urbana (@mitmagob) September 28, 2021

Clearer videos have also been uploaded, showing the lava glowing bright orange as it seeps into the sea, giving off clouds of fumes as it does so.

Video caída lava al mar #lapalma #RamonMargalef @IEOoceanografia @CSIC pic.twitter.com/iGspTjzSzn

— Eugenio Fraile (@EugenioFraile) September 28, 2021

Volcanologists have expressed concern that toxic gases could be released once the stream of molten rock reaches the coast.

Some coastal residents have been warned to stay home when the lava hits seawater, since it could cause vapors "which can be toxic," said Miguel Angel Morcuende, an official from the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

AFP cited Involcan as stating that inhaling "acid gases and liquids" could cause respiratory issues, especially in people with pre-existing conditions, and also cause skin and eye irritation. There have also been concerns about explosions and rock fragmentation upon entry of the lava into the sea, the agency said.

Since the start of the La Palma lava flow, 589 buildings have been destroyed, along with 21 kilometers (13 miles) of road, according to a monitoring team at the Copernicus satellite Earth observation program on Tuesday morning. The team added that the lava flow had covered around 258 hectares, or around 637 acres.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS last week, volcanologist Vicente Soler at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) said the surprise about this eruption is how quickly it has happened.

La Palma is composed of two large volcanic centers—one to the north, and one to the south. It is the southern Cumbre Vieja that has caused the recent lava flow. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the Canary Islands, according to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program.

La Palma volcano
Lava and ash erupt from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma on September 25, 2021. The recent eruption has destroyed homes on the island. Desiree Martin/AFP / Getty