Cumbre Vieja Volcano | John Seach


La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

28.58 N, 17.83 W
summit elevation 1949 m

La Palma has been the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands in historic times. Of the 17 eruptions recorded in the islands since the 15th century, eight occurred on La Palma Island at Cumbre Vieja Volcano in the south.

Cumbre Vieja does not contain a central vent complex: instead, a long N-S trending ridge forms the summit of the volcano.

Geological evidence suggests that during a future eruption, Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the Island of La Palma may experience a catastrophic failure of its west flank, dropping 150 to 500 km3 of rock into the sea. This event would produce a large tsunami which would cover the whole Atlantic Ocean.

Eruptions at Cumbre Vieja volcano are dominated by basaltic lavas and strombolian
pyroclastic deposits, violent phreatomagmatic explosions and growth of phonolitic domes.

Instability of Cumbre Vieja volcano
A zone of fracturing may be located beneath the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano. A lack of seismicity between eruptions indicates that the detachment is only activated by the intrusion of magma into the upper part of the volcano. More than half of the total subaerial volume of La Palma has been removed by landslides and erosion in the past million years.

2021 Eruption 
An eruption began at Cumbre Vieja volcano on 19 September 2021 with intense lava fountains and ash fall. Ash below 10,000 ft altitude. By the end of October 2021 the eruption had covered 960 hecrates and destroyed 2532 bulidings, with significant ash emissions, lava flows reaching the sea, and Strombolian eruptions from fissures.

1971 Eruption
In 1971 an eruption began from vents south of Fuencaliente at a location where the strongest seismic precursors to the 1949 eruption occurred. Seismicity preceding the 1971 eruption was strongest near Fuencaliente, and led to the evacuation of the town 10 days before the eruption.

1949 Eruption (San Juan volcano)
An eruption at Cumbre Vieja Volcano in 1949 lasted 37 days from 24th June to 30th July. The eruption began with phreatomagmatic explosions from a vent in the northern Duraznero crater. The eruption ejected ash and bombs at intervals from minutes to hours. During the next twelve days, the activity migrated to four additional vents along a 400 m long N-S trending fissure. The second phase of the eruption began with the opening of a 60 m long fissure at Llano del Banco, 3 km northwest of Duraznero. Phase 3 of the eruption occurred from 12-30 July and involved opening of new vents at the base of the old Hoyo Negro crater, 1880 m asl. The maximum intensity of the entire eruption occurred around 19th July, when lava fountains up to 30 m high formed at Llano del Banco. After 3 days of quiescence at all vents, strong phreatomagmatic activity resumed at Hoyo Negro and Duraznero on 30th July.,

1677 Eruption (San Antonio eruption)
Eruptions at Cumbre Vieja Volcano in 1677 occurred at a strombolian vent located at the northern part of the large cone, and a group of spatter vents on the SW slope of the San Antonio volcano. San Antonio Cone was the main vent of the 1677 eruption. It consists of a large cone, 560 m high and 1200 m wide, with a crater 400 m wide and 105 m deep. The eruption lasted 65 days, from 17th November 1677 until 21st January 1678.

Further reading
Tehranirad, Babak, et al. "Far-field tsunami impact in the North Atlantic basin from large scale flank collapses of the Cumbre Vieja Volcano, La Palma." Pure and Applied Geophysics 172.12 (2015): 3589-3616.

Klügel, A., Hansteen, T.H. and Galipp, K., 2005. Magma storage and underplating beneath Cumbre Vieja volcano, la Palma (Canary Islands). Earth and Planetary Science Letters236(1-2), pp.211-226.

Ward, S.N. and Day, S., 2001. Cumbre Vieja volcano—potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands. Geophysical Research Letters28(17), pp.3397-3400.

Cumbre Vieja Volcano Eruptions

2021, 1971, 1949, 1712, 1677-78, 1646, 1585, 1435