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A Month in the Life of an Active Volcano

The La Palma volcano is in a constant state of flux. It started the month of November looking like this:

La Palma Volcano on November 1, 2021

Its two main fissures were facing towards the camera.

On November 30, those two fissures are notably less active. Instead, there’s activity to the back of the volcano, as seen in this close up:

La Palma Volcano on November 30, 2021

Lava can be seen to the left, flowing from a fissure to the back of the volcano. Activity has moved one step south along La Palma’s ridge of fire.

This change on the ground corresponded to a change in the height of the volcano’s ash cloud, which had been tall until the first week of November. It then reduced in height ahead of a lull in activity. This is what it looked like from a distance on November 9:

La Palma volcano’s ash cloud on November 9, 2021

However, five days later it was back to what it looked like before the lull:

La Palma volcano’s ash cloud on November 14, 2021

This was followed by great lava flows from the original fissures, as well as further opening of fissures to the south where activity is currently centered.

The ash cloud proved correct in predicting both a lull in activity and a subsequent uptick. The height of the ash cloud appears to be predictive, but only for a few days into the future.

Judging from this picture taken on November 30, there will be plenty of activity as we move into December:

La Palma volcano’s ash cloud on November 30, 2021

As long as the ash cloud remains tall, we can expect activity to remain heavy on the ground.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. We’re eight days into December, and activity on the ground has been moderate. The plume vanished, only to return a day or two ago.

    This means that the high plume on November 30 failed to predict the volcano’s activity over the following days. If there’s no uptick in activity over the next few days, we can conclude that the current high plume is similarly useless for predictions.

    However, if activity increases over the next few days, we may still have a useful rule of thumb based on repeated observations of plumes growing taller prior to renewed activity.

    I’ll post another comment closer to Christmas, outlining the volcano’s continued development.

  2. The volcano is becoming increasingly erratic with the ash cloud coming and going. Yesterday saw a large explosion as described in this article:

    The article concludes correctly that more explosions can be expected, as there was an even bigger explosion today. The author predicts from this that the eruption has entered its final waning stage.

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