Friday, December 3

“The worst scenario is that the volcano spews lava on two slopes”


The Palm

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l see the column of ash and smoke from the La Palma volcano on September 19, the Pevolca advisor and person in charge of the Insular Plan of Action against Volcanic Risk, Carmen RomeroHe was already lamenting: “What a bad place.” And it is that from minute one, less than a kilometer from the point where it all began, “we knew it was going to be a terrible volcano.” This doctor in Geography, researcher and expert in historical eruptions in the Canary Islands knew, as did her team, that this volcano would be very hard on La Palma. “We were aware of where we were and how populated the area was, of the damage it was going to cause,” a destruction that was already glimpsed in the worst of nightmares.

This volcano is being “very hard and very long,” and it generates pain “in slow motion,” Romero told ABC. «Uncertainty is not only for those who lose their home, their environment, but also the evacuation invoice », points out the geographer, thinking of all those palm trees who have closed the doors of their houses without knowing if there will be a place to return to.

“In the last 60 years a lot of territory has been occupied, and because of them we are more vulnerable and more exposed”
Carmen Romero
Carmen Romero – ABC

Scientists have been trying to get ahead of the laundry for more than three weeks to avoid as much damage as possible, put people in a safe place, But the key parameter for these simulation programs of the paths that the lava will take is the orography and “in an eruption it changes constantly,” says Romero, who recalls that These simulations are done on a topography that “as soon as the eruption begins, changes”. “And it is necessary to readjust and recalibrate continuously on the changes of the terrain, to evaluate the path to the lava flows” because this language already, in itself, modifies the very terrain through which it runs “, he points out.

The volcanic emergency is “one of the most difficult to manage” and this terrible scenario “is not even the worst.” The possibility that things get even more black for La Palma exists, although it does not seem that it will happen, to breathe of the palmeros. «The worst scenario would be that of 1949, with a volcano that casts lava to two slopes ”but, according to the indicators, it does not seem that it is going to happen. “That it does not occur now does not mean that it cannot occur in the future, in an eruption far back in time” so the plans already contemplate what to do in the event that the disaster takes over the territory “and leaves it isolated apart from the island ».

An emergency plan raises from the organization to the structure and the teams involved in it: the volunteers, the evacuations of the population, what to do with the livestock, with the pets … to other situations such as the health teams for emotional management. “It’s being very hard”, not only for those directly affected by this great giant that springs up from Cumbre Vieja, but also for the teams that work in the emergency and those who study it from science. “The emotional charge is hard, this is not a volcano that we see from afar as a spectacle, we have it at home,” he recalls.

Right now we just have to wait “for it to stop now, but it seems that no, none of the indicators point to this nightmare coming to an end.” The northwest wash, which is wreaking havoc on the population “It will depend on the topography, the amount of magma and the consistency it takes”, and although “it tends to go towards the sea, on its way it will end everything.”

Destruction “depends on how long it lasts and the amount of magma, the orography, the consistency of the flows”, a myriad of parameters that make it a very complex phenomenon. The Cumbre Vieja volcano from the beginning «went very fastIn just one hour he had already covered the road through which we had entered the area, he recalls. The first hours were “very stressful, especially on a personal level, it is very hard,” says Romero.

REUTERS
REUTERS

In the first moment, with the first column of smoke and ash “at least you can already establish the emission point, it is a release because at least you know where it is”, but of course, that does not last long. “Then worry floods you.” Immediately “the whole world started up, from that moment on in three days we slept barely five hours.”

The Volcanic Emergency Plan is determined by the volcano itself, it is “a living document” because although some parameters can be foreseen once eruption indicators begin to be observed and that something “It is being activated” but beyond that “it is very difficult to know the setting.” On La Palma “it is doing well” and this is the first time it has faced a challenge like this.

You can know the volcanic history of the territory and from there get a possible behavior of the volcanoes in that region, but the management of this particular volcano “is very difficult.” It follows the usual parameters “low explosive, fissure type, much more lava than pyroclasts”, but there is a problem that cannot be solved, people. It is “our people,” he laments.

In the Canary Islands in the last 60 years a lot of territory has been occupied, and because of them “we are more vulnerable and we are more exposed” to this danger. Not that volcanoes have changed too much in their history in the Canary Islands, is that the risk has approached the people and vice versa.

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