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La Palma volcano has been erupting for 2 months

La Palma volcano: Bright orange glowing clouds over volcano against dark blue sky with stars, plus a long green meteor streak.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | This image shows a fireball (a bit of space debris) from the Taurid meteor shower behind the La Palma volcano. Roberto Porto in La Palma wrote on November 14, 2021: “Day 56 of the eruption of the volcano Cumbre Vieja. The volcano is quiet. It no longer emits its deafening noise. Barely any magma comes out of the Strombolian eruptive mouth … We are leaning against the wall of the church of Tajuya, while the 5 Nikons tirelessly shoot photos at the volcano. Some dogs in the distance start barking for no apparent reason. Suddenly, a short but intense tremor shakes the wall of the church. We just felt an earthquake of intensity 4.7. In a few seconds the dynamics of the volcano change completely. It stops emitting so much ash and the lava gains strength again, coming out of the main mouth. At that moment a fireball, from the rain of Taurids, falls from the sky and explodes just above the volcano.” What a moment! Thank you, Roberto!

La Palma volcano began erupting on September 19

It’s been two months since a volcano on the Atlantic island of La Palma – part of Spain’s Canary Islands – began to erupt on September 19, 2021. And the La Palma volcano is still erupting. According to the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program, as of November 16 the eruption at La Palma continues to be characterized by:

Strombolian explosions and lava fountaining from multiple vents, advancing and sometimes branching lava flows, and daily ash emissions.

Almost two months after it began, the La Palma volcano claimed its first victim on November 13. According to reports from Spanish news wire EFE, a 70-year-old man was killed while working as a volunteer cleaning up volcanic ash when the roof of the building he was on collapsed.

On November 19 – the two-month anniversary of the start of the eruption – La Palma’s volcano spewed a billowing cloud of gas and ash. Spain’s National Geographic Institute said that the November 19 volcanic activity included a 5.1-magnitude earthquake, the strongest since eruptions began on September 19.

According to the Spanish news outlet El Pais on November 19, the eruption has forced about 7,000 people (of the 85,000 who live on La Palma) to evacuate. And the lava flow has covered over 1000 hectares (about 4 square miles), which is 1.4% of the total area of La Palma.

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Most destructive in living memory

This volcano is widely regarded as the most destructive in La Palma’s living memory. The lava flow is about 0.6 miles (1 km) wide and has reached the sea. According to, the lava has destroyed more than 2,600 buildings, cut the coastal highway and formed a new peninsula.

The 2021 La Palma eruption is coming from Cumbre Vieja (“Old Peak”), considered to be one of the most active volcanos in the Canary Islands. Footage from local and international media shows the current eruption of red-hot lava and dust emanating from the Cumbre Vieja National Park in the south of the island. This volcano erupted twice in the 20th century, in 1949 and again in 1971. So, before the September 19 eruption began, the last eruption of this volcano on La Palma was 50 years ago. The 1971 eruption lasted just over three weeks.

See the images and video on this page. Our thanks to EarthSky Community members Roberto Porto and Antonio Gonzalez, both of whom are on La Palma, and who contributed photos to our community page.

Visit the news site for live updates on the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

Ash clouds glowing red from volcanic eruption with lightning in the clouds.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Antonio Gonzalez in El Paso, La Palma Island, took this image of the volcanic eruption on November 14, 2021. He wrote: “During a volcanic eruption, when it has an episode of emission of a lot of volcanic ash, it’s possible to see a lot of volcanic lightning. Some scientists think that this lightning helped in the formation of life on Earth.” Thank you, Antonio!

Lava fills swimming pool, headed to sea

La Palma volcano: Thin streams of glowing orange lava flow down a mountainside at night.
La Palma volcano, September 19, 2021, via Reuters.
The sky, half blue and half vibrant flaming red-orange clouds, over city lights on a hill.
View larger. | Our friend Roberto Porto in La Palma captured this glorious panoramic photo on September 20, 2021. He wrote: “The new volcano in La Palma erupted and created this pyrocumulus illuminated by the full moon.” Thank you for sharing, Roberto.
Low black silhouettes and shining yellow streaks of lava beneath a sky almost totally a vibrant red-orange blur.
View larger. | Also from Roberto Porto, who captioned this image from the same day: “The first night of the new volcano in La Palma.” It’s spectacular.

Bottom line: The La Palma volcano – which began erupting on September 19, 2021 – has now been erupting for two months. Photos and video here. said in October that this eruption is now officially the most damaging among the historical eruptions that have occurred on the island of La Palma since records began.

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly spoke on November 17 with a resident of La Palma, who said the lava is now only 400 yards (meters) from her house.

November 19, 2021

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