Overall Orange alert Volcanic eruption for La Palma
in Spain

Event summary

Volcanic eruption La Palma can have a medium humanitarian impact based on the exposed population and vulnerability.

GDACS ID VO 1000031
Name: La Palma
Glide number: VO-2021-000146-ESP
Lat/Lon: 28.57 , -17.83
Event Date: 15 Dec 2021 UTC
Exposed Population 30km: About 91000 people within 30km
Exposed Population 100km: About 130000 people within 100km
Max Volc. Explosivity Index VEI: 2
Population Exposure Index PEI: 4
Inserted at: 07 Dec 2021 07:50 UTC

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Spain - Volcanic eruption (ECHO 20 Sep 2021)Mon, 20 Sep 2021 12:45

  • The Cumbre Vieja volcano, located in southern La Palma Island (western Canary Islands), following several days of seismic activity, started erupting on 19 September at 14.15 UTC (15.15 local time). The eruption was characterized by lava fountains, lava flows and ash emissions from several eruptive vents on the western slope of Cumbre Vieja. Volcanic ash is falling in the vicinity of the volcano.
  • According to the Spanish National Centre for Emergencies, CENEM, at least 5,000 people have been evacuated (it is not unlikely that more evacuations may take place in the next hours or days, depending on the evolution of the event)  and some roads have been closed. People living in the area of Alcalá and El Paraíso have already been evacuated and the evacuation of El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte has begun, following the advance of the lava flow that has been reported across El Paso village.
  • The alert level of the volcano raised from Yellow to Red (on a four-level scale from Green to Red).
  • The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service (EMSR546) was activated on 19 September.
Spain - Volcanic eruption, update (ECHO 21 Sep 2021)Tue, 21 Sep 2021 12:01

  • The activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano (La Palma Island, Canary Islands) is ongoing, a new eruptive vent (9 in total) has been reported 900 m from the main crater very close to the Tacande village (El Paso Municipality). The speed of the lava flow towards the western coast of La Palma is slowing down, as reported by the Government of Canary Islands. The alert level of the volcano stands at red.
  • According to the Spanish National Emergency Centre (CENEM), around 180 houses have been affected by the lava flow and six roads are still cut  across El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane, San Andrés and Tajuya Localities.
  • The number of people evacuated has increased to more than 6,000 and school activities have been interrupted in three municipalities.
  • The Government of Canary Islands has issued an exclusion radius of two nautical miles from the coast and the area cannot be accessed for security reasons, all flights are operating normally.
  • The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service () was activated on 19 September and produced two maps so far.
Spain - Volcanic eruption, update (ECHO 22 Sep 2021)Wed, 22 Sep 2021 12:07

  • The lava flow emitted by Cumbre La Vieja volcano continues slowing down in westward direction and the speed has been reduced from 700 to 10 m/h. According to PEVOLCA and Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service, the main eruptive vent is located approximately 3,6 km east of Todoque village, and the extent of the affected area has reached 154,37 ha.
  • The daily level of sulfur dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is estimated at 8,000-10,600 tons
  • According to the Spanish National Emergency Centre (CENEM), the number of evacuated people stands at 6,800 and around 200 houses have been affected as well as 200 infrastructure and 400 tourists have been relocated in Tenerife island.
  • The alert level of the volcano stands at Red (on a four-level scale from Green to Red). A 2 km exclusion radius around emission centres is recommended to minimize the risk of pyroclastic impact and exposure to gases. Furthermore, restrictions on maritime traffic are still active.
  • The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service was activated on 19 September to support the damage assessment and four maps have been produced so far.
Spain - Volcanic eruption, update (ECHO 24 Sep 2021)Fri, 24 Sep 2021 12:33

  • Cumbre La Vieja volcano continues its explosive and effusive activity. On 23 September since 16.20 UTC (17.20 local time), a series of powerful explosions with significant ash and gas emissions have been reported by the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (INVOLCAN).
  • The lava flow is 3800 m long and is located 2100 m from the coast and its speed has slowed down. The lava affected the area of almost 220 ha. 
  • At least 5,700 people have been evacuated across the Municipalities of Tazacorte, El Pais and Los Llanos de Aridane and 400 houses have been destroyed. 800 emergency personnel from all administrations are currently working in the field.
  • The aviation colour code has risen to red due to the eruptive column of gases and ash emitted on 23 September.
  • The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service (EMSR546) was activated on 19 September to support the damage assessment and eight maps have been produced so far.
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 28 Sep 2021)Tue, 28 Sep 2021 12:41

  • The explosive and effusive activity of Cumbre la Vieja is ongoing and two lava flows are moving towards the western coast. The northern lava flow, located  800-1,000 m from the coast of Tazacorte, is the most active while the southern lava flow is slowing down. 
  • According to the Government of Canarias, 300 people living in the coastal areas of San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa (Tazacorte Municipality) have been evacuated. In addition, 200 people returned to their homes, while 5,600 are still evacuated.
  • A 2.5 km exclusion radius around emission centres is recommended to minimize the risk of pyroclastic impact and exposure to gases; in areas affected by intense ash fall, it is recommended to stay indoors. 
  • The General Directorate of the Merchant Navy modified the no-navigation zone one mile further north considering the increased possibility that the lava flow could reach the coast.
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 30 Sep 2021)Thu, 30 Sep 2021 12:03

  • The lava emitted by the Cumbre la Vieja volcano maintains a continuous flow over the sea. An intense seismic activity has been reported over the Fuencaliente Municipality area (southern La Palma).
  • According to the Department of National Security (DSN), 855 houses have been destroyed, 126 partially damaged and a total area of 476 ha affected by the lava flow.
  • The maritime exclusion and the evacuation orders for the coastal areas of San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa (Tazacorte Municipality) are still in effect.
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 12 Oct 2021)Tue, 12 Oct 2021 12:57

  • As the effusive and explosive activity is ongoing in Cumbre la Vieja volcano, two main lava flows have been affecting the Todoque area and the industrial area of Los Lanos de Aridane.
  • The Department of National Security (DSN) reports 1,281 affected houses and a total area of 525,77 ha affected by the lava flow, including 132 ha of cropland.
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 14 Oct 2021)Thu, 14 Oct 2021 12:18

  • The vent located in the southeastern flank of Cumbre La Vieja volcano in La Palma has been reactivated while the northern lava flow is slowing down and the southern one is moving 50 metres per hour. The amount of total affected area by the lava flows reached 640,27 ha.
  • According to the Department of National Security (DSN), 800 people have been evacuated following the advance of the northern lava flow on 12 October. In addition, PEVOLCA issued other evacuation orders for some villages located in Los Llanos de Aridane Municipality.
  • National authorities are assisting those people who lost their houses and are providing desalination plants installed to supply irrigation water.
  • The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service () was activated on 19 September to support the damage assessment and 42 maps have been produced so far.
Volcano La Palma - Copernicus EMS activation (EMSR546)Sun, 19 Sep 2021 20:01

EMSR546: Copernicus Emergency Management Service has been activated
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 19 Oct 2021)Tue, 19 Oct 2021 11:48

  • The eruption is ongoing in Cumbre la Vieja volcano, as the main flow of lava is running along the northern flank towards the western coast of La Palma, in an area south-west of the La Laguna mountain (south of Tazacorte).
  • According to the Department of National Security (DSN), the height of the ash and gas column reaches 4,200 metres. On 19 October, the population of El Paso has been recommended to stay indoors, while activities for two educational centres will take place on-line, as air quality might worsen due to the possibility of the lava reaching the coast of Tazacorte. 
  • According to the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service (), which was activated on 19 September to support the damage assessment, up to 2,017 buildings have been affected by the volcanic event.
  • La Palma airport is operational, although there are delays in inter-island flights due to the volcanic ash cloud.
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 21 Oct 2021)Thu, 21 Oct 2021 12:33

  • In La Palma island (Canary Islands, Spain), new evacuations have been ordered for residents in the Municipalities of Llanos de Aridanne and Tazacorte, due to the advancement of the lava flow further north-west, as reported by the Department of National Security (DSN).
  • As of 21 October, the area of nearly 810 ha has been affected by the advance of the lava flow of Cumbre la Vieja volcano.
  • On 20 October, an Inexpensive Device for Sea Level measurements (IDSL-50) was installed on the coast of Tazacorte by the Spanish National Geographic Institute (IGN), in cooperation with the Joint Research Centre (JRC). 
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 28 Oct 2021)Thu, 28 Oct 2021 12:22

  • A new rupture of the main cone has been reported on 27 October and the lava has been flowing westwards over the coast. An increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) values has been recorded on the west side of the island as well as the seismic activity with earthquakes greater than 3.5 MbLg in medium and deep depths (more than 20 km).   
  • According to the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service (), 2,183 buildings have been destroyed, 113 damaged and an area of 911 ha affected.
  • Following the possibility that the northern lava flow could reach the sea, the Maritime Captaincy established a perimeter of exclusion from Puerto Naos to Tazacorte and 0.5 nautical mile off the coast.
Spain - Volcanic activity, update (ECHO 10 Nov 2021)Wed, 10 Nov 2021 13:03

  • The eruption is ongoing in Cumbre la Vieja volcano (La Palma Island, Canary Islands), and the lava flow has exceeded the pre-existing front moving south and reaching the coast at Playa de Los Guirres. The amount of the affected area by the lava is more than 988 ha.
  • 7,200 people have been evacuated.
  • Currently, several emission centres with variable activity are still active and the emission of PM10 suspended particles has improved in the values from "extremely unfavorable" to "unfavorable" in Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso, Tazacorte, Puntagorda and Tijarafe. In addition, the emission of sulfur dioxide (SO2) associated with the volcanic plume continues to be high, with values between 9,000 and 13,000 tons per day.
  • School classes have re-started today in the affected municipalities.
  • National authorities are providing help for the farmers of La Palma affected by the eruption.
  • The Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service () was activated on 19 September to support the damage assessment and 98 maps have been produced so far.
Detailed event map. European Union, 2022. Map produced by EC-JRC.
The boundaries and the names shown on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the European Union.

Updates on volcanic activity (Smithsonian)

The Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report provides information about global volcanism on a weekly basis. Latest La Palma report has been published on 01 Dec 2021 09:06.
The eruption at La Palma continued during 24-30 November, characterized by Strombolian explosions and lava fountaining/jetting from multiple existing and new vents, advancing and sometimes branching lava flows, and daily ash emissions. The eruption began on 19 September and had been active for 70 days by 28 November. Volcanic tremor levels were low, though during 28-29 November levels fluctuated and were sometimes intense. Seismicity persisted at variable but elevated levels, with earthquake locations distributed at depths of 10-15 km and 30-40 km. Deeper seismicity decreased to low levels by 27 November while mid-level seismicity intensified through the week. The largest earthquake was a M 5 recorded at 0935 on 29 November at a depth of 36 km. A M 4.2 earthquake at a depth of 13 km was the largest event at mid-levels since the eruption began. Several vents in the main cone continued to effuse lava, eject tephra, and emit ash-and-gas plumes. Lava moved W through pre-existing lava channels, lava tubes, over older flows, and over new ground, increasing the flow field that consists of overlapping flows (numbered 1-11) and two lava deltas. During 23-25 November flows 4, 5, and 7 at the N end of the flow field continued to widen and advance, filling in gaps between the flows, and fed the N delta. Flows 1, 2, and 9 minimally fed the S delta. There was also an increasing number of active flows on the flow field as lava overflowed some channel margins or broke out of tubes. At around 0900 on 25 November the lava effusion rate increased at main crater vents, and around 1100 two small E-W fissures opened less than 1 km S of the main cone. The easternmost vent produced a fast-moving lava flow that traveled along the S margin of flow 10 and around the S side of Monta?a Cogote. The flow advanced through the Las Manchas cemetery and inundated parts of a solar power plant; the newly covered areas were part of the exclusion zone and had already been evacuated. The flow rate slowed to about 25 m per hour and joined flow 11 by 26 November. An overflow of lava SW of flow 3 produced a small branch oriented laterally the flow margin. Flow 7 widened during 26-27 November as it continued to be fed. New vents opened on the NE flank of the main cone at around 0300 on 28 November, producing fluid lava flows that traveled N and NW through the Tacande area and crossed the LP-212 road. The opening of the new vents was followed by landslides on the NW flank of the cone. In a video taken at 1145 lava fountains rose from one of the vents while another ejected tephra. Dense billowing ash plumes rose from the main crater. Video taken at 1050 on 29 November showed lava flows transporting large blocks downslope. Another video showed lava flowing at a rate of about 1 m per second. By noon the vents in the main cone became notably less active and remained only intermittently active through 30 November. Several streams of lava from the new vents continued to advance NW and then W along older flows and split into two branches. One branch traveled through tubes and fed flows 4, 5, and 7 between Monta?a de Todoque and Monta?a de La Laguna and the other descended towards flow 8 (the most northern flow). Flows inundated previously untouched forest and agricultural land. By 30 November the width of the flow field had grown to 3.35 km and lava covered an estimated 11.34 square kilometers. The number of people that had evacuated and were staying in hotels had increased to 537. Gas and ash emissions again impacted island residents. Suspended ash and high concentrations of volcanic gases triggered a few air-quality alerts mostly affecting the W part of the island; authorities warned residents of some affected areas to stay indoors. Essential personnel were occasionally barred from entering the exclusion zones to irrigate crops and remove ash from streets and buildings. Heavy rains during 25-26 November triggered warnings from authorities to stay away from steep slopes and drainages due to the possibility of lahars. Ash plumes rose as high as 4.8 km and drifted E during 24-26 November, and continued to deposit ash at La Palma airport. By 27 November winds had shifted and the ash at the airport had been removed, allowing it to open for the first time since 20 November. Ash plumes rose 1.4-3.5 km and drifted SW and SSW during the rest of the week. Sulfur dioxide emissions continued an overall downward trend during 23-26 November, though heavy rain sometimes prevented ground-based measurements. The trend was broken on 27 and 28 November with values of 30,000-49,999 tons per day, characterized as ?very high.? During 29-30 November emission values were ?high? or between values of 1,000 and 29,999 tons per day. Sources: Gobierno de Canaries ,Instituto Geogr?fico Nacional (IGN),Instituto Volcanol?gico de Canarias (INVOLCAN)
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Estimated casualties (PAGER)

USGS estimates the number of casualties for each earthquake for the Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) product.
The graph shows the current fatalities estimate.

Exposed population

Data, images, links, services and documents

For this events, GDACS has links to information from the following sources: EMSR (2), EC-JRC (31), (1), INGV (2), WMO (1), INFORM (2),