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4 possible effects when lava flow reaches the sea [Volcano La Palma]

10/10/2021

In the following article we are going to explain the 4 possible effects when lava flow reaches the sea. The most common possible effects that can occur when lava flow reaches the sea are all very local effects and are therefore controlled with the protection perimeter that PEVOLCA has dictated.

Below we explain everything thanks to the phenomenal thread opened on Twitter by Rubén López @rubenlodi.

What will happen when the lava reaches the sea

The most normal thing that happens when the lava flow reaches the sea, we can classify it in 4 phases:

Effects when lava flow reaches the sea

1.- Collapse of areas of the lava platform.
2.- Explosions caused by the collapse of the platform.
3.- Waves of hot water caused by the collapse.
4.- Steam pens with hydrochloric acid content.

When the lava reaches the sea, it builds a building on the seabed that, if it is not too deep, will rise to the surface, as is the case in the La Palma volcano. In the Canary Islands we have the autochthonous word “fajana” that we will use from now on to talk about this new platform.

efectos cuando la colada de lava llega al mar

1.- Collapse of areas of the lava platform

Effect 1.- Sudden collapse of an area of ​​the lava platform sometimes taking part of the coastal cliff with it. Lava sinks can occur due to the instability of the platform and slide towards the sea. That is why you should never walk on the strip.

effects when lava flow reaches the sea

2.- Explosions caused by the collapse of the platform

Effect 2: Explosions due to the arrival of lava: upon reaching the ocean it generates various types of explosive interactions with seawater. If it joins a delta collapse it can be a more pronounced phenomenon. The blast can launch pieces up to 1m to 250m away.

3.- Waves of hot water caused by the collapse

Effect 3: waves generated by the collapse of the fajana that reach boiling temperature. If part of the strip collapses, the lava may come into contact with the water with thermal shock. Very local effect that causes waves on land and water.

volcan la palma

4.- Steam pens with hydrochloric acid content

Effect 4: plume appearance with water vapor and hydrochloric acid. As the lava reaches the sea, a white plume of acidic water vapor is created. Reactions occur, acid vapor, gas with HCl and volcanic crystals appear.

plumas de vapor

Recommendations for the La Palma volcano effects

These effects are very local and if we follow the PEVOLCA recommendations, there is no danger. In the immediate vicinity they can cause skin and eye irritation and even breathing difficulties if the hydrochloric vapor is inhaled.

This information and some infographics have been taken from @USGSVolcanoes for their great experience with similar phenomena in the volcanoes of Hawaii. It is recommended to be prudent and comply with all the PEVOLCA recommendations at all times.

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