La Palma volcano stops erupting after 85 days of destruction
The eruption of the La Palma volcano that plunged Spain’s Canary Islands into chaos has stopped “after 85 days and 8 hours,” the local government announced.
“The eruption is over,” the regional security minister, Julio Perez, said at a press conference on Saturday.
Clarifying that the volcano stopped showing vital signs on December 13, he said he was relieved to be able to confirm the news.
This is not surprising given the challenges the Canary Islands government has faced. In the last three months, the eruption, which began on September 19, has prompted the evacuation of over 7,000 people, with 1,600 buildings destroyed and more than 70km of roads buried.
However, while the eruption might be over, seismologists warn that it is still too early to relax. According to a volcanologist from the National Geographic Institute, Stavros Meletlidis, as quoted by El Pais, the currently adopted 10-day period is too short to establish if the volcano has indeed gone back to sleep.
“I proposed that there would be more time. In any case, this is an insignificant time period: the eruption may have ended, but the volcanic process will continue for a long time,” he said.
While the La Palma eruption is now the longest and most destructive in the island’s history, it is far from being a world record.
The Guinness World Records lists Italy’s Mount Stromboli as the longest continuously erupting volcano, which “has been undergoing continuous volcanic eruptions since at least the 7th century BC,” when activity was reported by Greek colonists. Its constant mild explosions – several each hour – gave it the nickname ‘the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’.
The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia is still considered the worst in modern history, with at least 71,000 fatalities.