After the volcanic eruption nine days ago Cumber Vega volcano On the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands (Spain), which destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate, the authorities’ attention focused on lava reaching the sea, which happened on Tuesday. .
For this reason, extreme precautions were taken, to widen the perimeter of exclusion on the coast to prevent people from approaching the area.
The main reason is due to the chemical reaction that is created when lava comes into contact with salt water, which “can generate explosions and emit harmful gases,” according to the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pivolca) authorities.
“When the magma touches the sea, large columns of Water vapor Because a lot of sea water will evaporate. This is due to the large thermal disparity between the two: the washing temperature is more than 900 degrees Celsius, while the water temperature is about 23 degrees Celsius,” according to Jose Mangas, professor of geology at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
“But since water contains chlorides, sulfates, carbonates, fluorine, and iodine (among other things), it will also volatilize.” Poisonous gasesThe academic said.
These gases can cause Irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.
Mangas gives as an example what happens in areas near volcanoes in Hawaii.
“When you approach the area of the sea where liquid lava is falling – a fenced area – there you are Itchy nose and throat Because you breathe gases evaporated from sea water that contain chlorine and sulfate…”.
They are gases that leave a bad smell in the nearest regions.
On the other hand, when the laundry is rapidly cooled by contact with water, the lava “cracks, and this can cause the expulsion of projectiles Projectiles at relatively close range, firing Gases (toxic) contained in lava Trapped inside,” told BBC Mundo Hector Lamolda Ordonez, geo-engineer at the National Geographic Institute and professor at the Faculty of Mathematics at the Complutense University of Madrid.
Both scholars agreed that delineating a perimeter close to the affected area is sufficient to control the danger.
“Toxic gases are released into the open atmosphere, in a constrained, confined and clearly limited space, It should not pose a greater danger“No one should be there when that happens,” Lamolda added.
Other dangers associated with magma reaching the ocean, according to the USGS, are not necessarily related to the state of the magma. Cumber Vega volcano employment palm, is the sudden collapse of the land and the cliffs of the coast, the explosions that resulted from this avalanche and the waves of boiling water that are generated around it.
*This article was originally published on September 21 and has been updated with news that lava from La Palma volcano has reached the sea.
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