Data compiled and edited by Ajay Jones and Ryan Bailey. With thanks to Jose M. Marrero, Volcanic Hazard and Risk Assessment Officer for Montserrat Volcano Observatory, for their collaboration and advice during this project.
This timeline was constructed using geological reports and official statements produced throughout the La Palma eruption from September 12th 2021 until January 31st 2022. All original reports were written in Spanish and were therefore translated into English for this timeline. The reports were also edited for mistranslations, readability, and succinctness. Some geological and volcanological jargon is used throughout this timeline, please refer to GeoTenerife’s glossary, for definitions.
On the 19th of September, the volcano that would later be known as Tajogaite, erupted and changed the lives of many people living on the island of La Palma forever. The eruption went on to last 85 days and 8 hours and was announced to be over by Julio Perez on the 25th of December 2021. During the eruption two fissures opened up and multiple vents emitted 11 lava flows in total. The lava flows traveled westward eventually extending the coastline of the island. During the course of the eruption, six craters were formed, the total volume of lava erupted was 200 million cubic meters, lava covered 12.19 km2 of land, and 3,063 buildings were affected by the lava flows. For the residents living on the island, it was rare that an earthquake was not felt on an average day; throughout the eruption, 9,090 earthquakes were located, with 5.1 mbLg being the maximum magnitude recorded, and IV-V the highest intensity earthquake reached on the EMS scale. The graphs below portray the earthquake depth and magnitude recorded by IGN throughout the eruption.
Volcanic risk traffic light system is put in place to describe how the volcanological parameters will impact governmental response. The table below displays the system that was used during the Tajogaite eruption on La Palma.
|Green||Pre-Alert||Normal volcanological parameters||Population maintain their normal lives|
|Yellow||Alert||Increased volcanological signals such as seismicity, gas measurements, and ground deformation||Information to the population, surveillance measures and monitoring of volcanic and seismic activity are intensified|
|Orange||Maximum Alert||Volcanological parameters suggest an imminent eruption||Preventative evacuations and residents should make themselves available to authorities|
|Red||Emergency||Volcanic eruption is occuring and may pose significant risk to the population||Total evacuation of the population in affected areas|
See the simplified timeline of the key events of volcanic risk traffic light changes, confinement orders, evacuation orders, and eruption changes.
To the full timeline of events, scroll from September reports through to the January reports. Alternatively, if you would like to sort by group, refer to the code system table below and select which group you would like to read more about.
|General evaluation||General assessment of the situation.|
|Volcanic evaluation||Assessment exclusively of the volcanic activity.|
|Return of residents||Return of residents to previously evacuated area.|
|Evacuation||Evacuation of residents announced.|
|Confinement ON||Confinement of residents announced|
|Confinement OFF||Confinement of residents announced lifted.|
|Trafficlight||Traffic light system change.|
|Decision||Policy decisions made public excluding traffic light changes.|
|Past Decision||Past policy decisions maintained/reminding the public of decisions made|
|Recommendations||Recommendations made to the public.|
|Public event||Public communications e.g. town meeting.|
|Exclusion zone||Exclusion zone perimeter change.|
|VONA||Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation issued by IGN when the change in ash plume height would impact aviation.|
|Seismic activity||IGN reported seismic activity on La Palma.|
|Plume height||IGN reported ash plume activity, this could be an increase or decrease in height or a change in the direction of the scattering cloud.|
|Volcanic tremor||IGN reported volcanic tremor activity.|
|Volcanic tremor intensification pulses||IGN reported intensification in the volcanic tremor signals.|
|Uplift||IGN reported that uplift was observed|
|Subsidence||IGN reported subsidence was observed.|
|Directional deformation||IGN reported deformation with a directional element was observed.|
|Deformation||IGN reported deformation without direction.|
|Eruption increases||IGN reported the eruption of pyroclastic materials had started or increased.|
|Eruption decreases||IGN reported the eruption of pyroclastic materials ended or decreased.|
|Lava flow activity||IGN reported on the lava flow activity.|
|Ash emission activity||IGN reported on ash emission from the volcano.|
|Reversal of deformation||IGN reported a reversal of deformation previously reported.|
|Volcanic cone measurement||IGN reported a volcanic cone height measurment|
|Earthquakes felt||IGN reported that earthquakes were felt by a population.|
|Degassing||IGN reported that volcanic degassing was observed.|
|Official statement||Statement from the Canarian Government.|
|Geological report||IGN report on various geological and volcanological activity occuring.|
Timeline data accumulated by Ajay Jones and Ryan Bailey