For the first time since the 20th November, air quality has been sufficient enough to allow the commencement of operations at La Palma airport. The change in air quality is due to a change in wind direction, with dispersion of the volcanic plume now being to the southeast. The lava flow activity remains largely concentrated in the central flows which are widening, as well as in the stream at the south of the flow field which was fed by the inactive vents to the south of the main cone and advances incrementally. Seismicity remains similar to previous days, with 75 events being recorded with most being intermediate (10-15 km depth) events although some deep (30-45 km depth) events were recorded. The day’s largest earthquake which was a mbLg 3.6 event at 36 km depth.

After the changes to the eruption on the 25th, the emission points that opened to the south of the main cone ceased emitting in the early hours of the morning, however the emission point that opened on the morning of the 25th to the east of the main cone remains active and feeding the new flow to the SW of the main cone. This flow has moved through flows 10 and 11 to the south of the flow field and has affected the photovoltaic plant, Las Manchas cemetery and new buildings. Later in the day, a new eruptive focus opened up on the eastern flank of the main cone.

An increase in lava emission was seen throughout the day. Initially, at 9 am local time, a sudden increase was seen from the main effusive focus on the NW flank of the main cone and then at 11 am a new lava flow heading SW was observed emitted from a reactivated emission point to the east of the main cone.

Rain warnings have been issued for La Palma in the coming days, which PEVOLCA has warned could remobilise unconsolidated ash deposits which may form local mass movements and present a hazard to driving, especially in steep areas. Meanwhile, the dispersion of the ash and gas plume continues to be to the E/NE and are unfavourable to the operations of the airport.

The confinement ordered for areas of Tazacorte on the 22nd due to gases from the creation of a second lava delta to the north of the first one has been lifted today, as it was determined there is no further risk to these populations from gases. The extent of the new lava delta is unknown, although the first lava delta continues to grow and is estimated to be 43 hectares.

The advance of flow number 7 culminated in it reaching the sea at 12:03pm local time, where it begins to form a second lava delta north of the first one. In anticipation of this event, a preventative confinement of the four closest neighbourhoods in Tazacorte was ordered due to possible gas emissions, which affected 3,000 people.

The contribution of lava to the active lava flows has been concentrated around flows 4 and 7 which both flow parallel in between La Laguna Mountain and Todoque Mountain, and in the last 24 hours have merged a few hundred metres from the coast, to the SW of La Laguna Mountain. The flows are currently affecting new land which consists largely of banana plantations.

The cumulative amount of material expelled by the eruption so far is thought to have reached the threshold value (10 million m3) for the classification of the eruption to change from a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) 2 eruption to a VEI 3 eruption. However, PEVOLCA were keen to explain that this value only represents the amount of material emitted by the eruption and does not imply any changes to the eruption dynamics.

The increase in lava emission rate in the evening of the 18th has continued, making the lava flows faster and more fluid. However, there remains only three active fronts as in the past days, one to the south of the lava flow field that has flowed past Cogote Mountain, called flow 11, another front consisting of multiple streams feeding the lava delta (flows 1, 2 and 9), and finally a wide front between La Laguna Mountain and Todoque Mountain which is the most active flow (between flows 4 and 7).

The more intense activity in the strombolian vents in the main cone that began on the 17th continues to be seen in the form of larger pyroclasts being emitted. From 8pm local time, an overflow of the lava channel by the cone was observed and was accompanied by an increase in lava emission rate. Regarding lava flows, the most active is flow number 4, which is 300 m from the sea between La Laguna and Todoque mountain.