Dramatic images have captured the moment lava from the erupting Cumbre Vieja volcano came into contact with the seawaters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Satellite imagery collected by space technology firm Maxar on Thursday, October 7, showcased the ongoing eruptions of the volcano located on Spain’s La Palma island, just off the coast of northwest Africa.
The Cumbre Vieja volcano first began erupting on September 19 with plumes of ash and lava seen spewing from a crack in the side of the mountain.
Travelling at an estimated half a mile an hour, the Maxar pictures capture the moment the 1,100 degrees Celsius lava hits the Atlantic Ocean waters surrounding the Canary Island as well as the devastation left in its wake.
As the pictures show, the molten lava has laid waste to everything in its path, with villages, farmland and other vegetation engulfed and reduced to a black and grey mass.
Additional infrared imagery not only charts the path of the active lava flow but highlights the contrast between those areas of the island still untouched by the effects of this natural disaster.
Hundreds of homes on the southwestern corner of the island have already been lost, while the resulting ash from the eruption has caused problems in terms of visibility issues, pollution and damage to electrical circuits.
The images also showcase the plumes of smoke created by the lava coming into contact with the sea. Experts have warned that these acidic fumes could cause respiratory problems and irritation to the skin for those living nearby.
According to El Pais, a new stream of lava reached the beach of El Charcón, within the municipal limits of Tazacorte, on Thursday.
A Pevolva spokesperson told the news outlet that the lava flow “razed more banana plantations, destroyed several deposits and the odd building” and could cause more damage in the coming days.
It came amid an earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale, which struck the island that same day. Data collected by the National Geographic Institute of Spain shows the tremor registered at a depth of 35 kilometers.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated from the island since the volcano began erupting while La Palma airport has also been forced to close as a result of the ash and dust created.
Officials told Euro News that molten rock from the volcanic crater is now flowing straight into the sea via a “lava tube” made from pre-existing, hardened lava.
While this is likely to reduce the level of destruction, Thomas Walter from the German Research Center for Geosciences, says the situation remains unpredictable. “It is still too early to say…how this eruption will develop,” he warned.
According to his team’s research, the lava flow is currently 6,300 meters long and more than 1,000 meters wide at its broadest point. It is also said to be as much as 25 meters thick. Despite the seriousness of the situation, the majority of the island’s 85,000 population has not been affected.
These latest pictures come more than a week on from similar images of the moment the main lava flow from the volcano reached the Atlantic Ocean on September 28.
At that point the newly formed peninsula measured around 20 hectares in size. According to El Pais, it now covers 38 hectares and is continuing to expand.