In volcanoes, people want to close without knowing that gases are lethal

"Hell ... as sad as Bello in La Palma". Thus it is entitled one of the chronicles of him on the volcanic eruption on the island the local medium 'El Time'

In volcanoes, people want to close without knowing that gases are lethal

"Hell ... as sad as Bello in La Palma". Thus it is entitled one of the chronicles of him on the volcanic eruption on the island the local medium 'El Time'. The expression brings together the spectacularity of the images, which look like out of a painting of the Bosco, with the emergency situation that are suffering from the neighbors of the Natural Park of the Old Summit. The greatest danger to health, once it has successfully evacuated to thousands of people, is now in the toxic gases that expels the volcano.

The Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (Involcan) is analyzing from Monday morning the composition of the smoke column and measuring the amount of sulfur dioxide. Its initial estimates prevents that the eruption emits between 6,000 and 9,000 tons of this toxic gas. The eruption of Teneguía in 1971, the last one that had been suffered so far on the Island of La Palma, left a single deadly victim, which was due, precisely, to the inhalation of sulfur gases.

The scientist José Luis Barrera, an expert in vulcanology of the College of Geologists, points out that, thanks to the rapid evacuation of thousands of people, there is no risk to the health of the affected neighbors, unless they ignore the warnings of the authorities and approach too much To the volcano. "As well as an earthquake does not warn, the volcanoes do warn themselves. Apart from you and no one will die. The problem is the properties that destroys, that is a drama," he says.

"There is always a risk if it is very close, volcanic gases are harmful to any living being," in the field of Vulcanologist Stavros Meleidis, from the National Geographic Institute (IGN), to Canal 24 Hours of RTVE. "The material we ejecting the atmosphere, that ash, can affect the respiratory tract, mucous membranes or skin," recalls meleidis.

Barrera, in addition, the danger that represents the toxic gases of the volcano for the people who seek to "approach the maximum as possible to take the photo and upload it to Instagram. That's a risk," insists.

"In volcanoes, people want to close without knowing that gases are lethal," prevents, although it qualifies that, in the case of the palm, there should be no greater problem with the gases if the indications are followed. "As it is a pretty open area, it is very ventilated," explains Barrera. "There are no areas where the gas accumulates from Hondonada, which is the danger, but here, if you do not leave a lot, there is no danger."

The moment in which lava castings reach the sea can also give rise to explosions and emissions of toxic gases. "Gases are going to be released that carries the lava inside and water vapors. You have to be at a prudential distance," Meletidis warns.

The eruptions like the one we are living, which is the eighth of which there are historical records in La Palma, "are strombolian eruptions [as on the Sicilian Island of Stromboli]," says Barrera, so it's "totally discarded" that reach Dimensions comparable to those of the "Plinian eruptions", like the one that destroyed the city of Pompeii, and who receive their name from the Roman writer Pliny, who described the immense eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79.

What is not possible to know is still how much the eruption is going to prolong. "It could be a matter of days or weeks," says Manuel Regueiro, president of the College of Geologists, who insists on the importance of following the instructions of the authorities and not approaching too much or the volcano, nor to lava castings. "Everyone knows that it is very dangerous to approach a volcano when it is in eruption and is throwing ashes, lava and toxic gases," he warns.

Updated Date: 21 September 2021, 17:42

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