Volcano erupts in Canary Islands, raising fears of mega tsunami

Today’s eruption occurs at La Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canaries. Image: Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center

A new volcanic eruption is underway right now in the Canary Islands, sparking unfounded fears that a mega tsunami will be thrown over the east coast of the United States. For the first time since 1971, lava reached the surface of the island of La Palma at the volcano, causing evacuations from the region.

Over the past week, seismic activity has increased in La Palma, located in the Canary Islands archipelago west of the west coast of Africa. In addition to the increasing frequency and intensification of earthquakes, more and more earthquakes were occurring near the surface, a clear sign that the magma was on the move and ready to erupt.

Today the rash has occurred. Visuals provided by the islanders indicate that a fissure has opened up on the western flank of La Cumbre Vieja, feeding lava fountains and flowing into surrounding communities, forests and farmland. At the time of publication of this article, no casualties have been reported.

As the eruption continues, seismic activity on the island continues. The increase in seismic activity reflects the flow of magma to the surface and the possibility of an even larger eruption in the hours to come.

While the people of La Palma are exposed to volcanic risks and dangers, there are also fears that volcanic activity could trigger a disaster on the east coast of the United States. The island of La Palma is at risk of a major landslide that could trigger a massive tsunami across the Atlantic.

A “mega tsunami” is an extremely large wave created by a large and sudden movement of material in a body of water. While typical tsunamis are created by underwater seismic activity in which a rise or fall of the seabed occurs and displaces this water, a mega tsunami is caused when a massive amount of material suddenly falls into the seabed. water ; this could be created by a large meteoric impact or by a major landslide, especially volcanic islands. While an ordinary tsunami could reach 100 feet high from a powerful earthquake, a mega tsunami could reach hundreds or even thousands of feet high. Because a mega tsunami is so huge, it would be able to travel tens of kilometers inland or more very quickly.

A BBC documentary series in 2000 titled “End Day” picked up on the idea of ​​a Canarian mega-tsunami, showing water rushing all the way to the east coast of the United States, destroying almost everything in the process. away, even far inland. NatGeo TV produced its own show, The Next Mega Tsunami: Killer Waves, discussing the threat of significant seismic events triggering massive waves across the oceans.

In 2001, Steven N. Ward and Simon Day proposed in a research article that a change in the eruptive activity of the volcano erupting today and a fracture of the volcano that formed during an eruption in 1949 could be the prelude to a giant collapse. They estimated that such a collapse could trigger tsunamis throughout the North Atlantic Ocean and have serious consequences in the United States and Canada. However, subsequent research debated whether the tsunami would still have a significant size away from La Palma, as the tsunami wave could quickly decrease in height away from the source and interactions with the continental shelves could further reduce its size. cut. There is some evidence that most collapses in the Canary Islands have taken place as multi-stage events that are not as effective at creating tsunamis, and that a multi-stage collapse in La Palma would also result in larger tsunamis. small.

At that time, a collapse of La Palma or the volcano there seems unlikely. However, a more vigorous eruption seems likely with increasing seismic activity. Scientists continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation there.

Authorities have ordered the evacuation of residents with reduced mobility from villages near the center of seismic activity earlier today as a preventive measure, with some being taken to a military outpost on the island for now. Emergency services are now evacuating around 1,000 more people on the island, which has an overall population of around 85,000.

According to the National Weather Service’s Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, there is no threat of a tsunami in the world at the time of this article’s publication.

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