Videos Show Volcano Spewing Lava as Eruption Set to Break La Palma's 500 Year Record

Dramatic videos show the continuing eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma.

The videos—which were published in the past two days by the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan)—emerged as the eruption entered its 72nd day, with no signs of it abating.

The volcano has been erupting since September 19, with lava flows causing widespread destruction on La Palma—located in the Canary Islands archipelago off the coast of northwest Africa.

In fact, experts told Spanish media outlet El País on Monday that the eruption will likely become the longest recorded on the island in 500 years soon.

"Unfortunately, the forecast contemplates no short-term end," Francisco Prieto, an official from the Volcano Risk Prevention Plan of the Canary Islands (Pevolca,) told El País.

He said the eruption could potentially last longer than that of the Tehuya volcano, which spewed out lava and ash for 84 days in 1646.

Experts said that several new vents opened up on Sunday at the northern and northeastern base of the volcano's main cone, producing new lava flows and lava fountains. While most of this lava has spread across previously affected land, some has touched areas that were previously unaffected by the eruption.

Local authorities have closed off the northern access to the volcano's exclusion zone due to the increasingly adverse conditions.

In the various videos posted by Involcan, you can see a new vent opening up on the volcano, a lava fountain and a lava flow transporting a big boulder, among other facets of the eruption.

In total, more than 7,000 people have had to flee their homes on the island—which has a population of around 85,000—as a result of the ongoing eruptions, local government figures show.

Lava flows have now covered more than 1,100 hectares of land on La Palma, destroying hundreds of buildings and swathes of farmland in the process.

On Sunday, Pevolca issued a warning about "very unfavorable," air quality in some municipalities on the island, urging residents to avoid outdoor activities where possible.

The warning was issued following a rise in emissions of sulfur dioxide, which volcanologists use as a metric for how long eruptions are potentially going to last. Sulfur dioxide emissions have increased by several thousands of tons per day in recent days.

Pedro Hernández, an expert with Involcan, told El País, "we may begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel when we get several days at hundreds of tons, instead of thousands."

Two other metrics that can provide an indication of how long an eruption is going to last—earthquake activity and vibrations caused by the flow of gas and magma—are also showing increased values.

Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma
The Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to erupt on November 11, 2021 in La Palma, Spain. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images