The land reclaimed from the sea by the volcano of La Palma is property of the State and becomes part of the geological heritage.

The land that the lava from the volcano of La Palma is gaining to the sea since early Wednesday is already, automatically, land maritime public domain, ie, state property, while the properties buried on land by the magmatic flow will remain private.

The cloud of gases generated by the lava on reaching the sea has not caused any personal injury, according to Pevolca.

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However, this increase of the national territory obliges the State to protect its new property, as it is part of the geological heritage and therefore subject to the Law of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, so that it may or may not expropriate such properties.

According to the Coastal Law, the land or islands that are formed or are formed by natural causes in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of rivers, as far as the tides are sensitive, belong to the state maritime-terrestrial public domain. Therefore, this land will foreseeably gain the maritime-terrestrial public domain will be inalienable, imprescriptible and unseizable.

Insofar as these assets are public, the Spanish Constitution also provides that both the maritime-terrestrial zone, like the beaches, the territorial sea and the natural resources of the economic zone and the continental shelf, are regulated by the Law of State Heritage and National Heritage for its administration, defense and conservation.

Similarly, within the framework of the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Act of 2007, the new geological formations are part of the heritage, so that the obligation to protect them with some of the different figures is established.

In particular, it recognizes the heritage value of the variety of geological elements, including rocks, minerals, fossils, soils, landforms, landforms, geological formations and geological formations.s and geological units and landscapes that are the product and record of the Earth’s evolution; as well as unique geological forms, of special scientific importance and which are representative of geological evolutionary history.

Likewise, it includes as part of the geological heritage the geological formations and structures, landforms, minerals, rocks, meteorites, fossils, soils and other geological manifestations that allow the study of the origin and evolution of the Earth as well as its landscapes.

The delta of more than 50 meters high and all the advance of the lava over the sea will also force to modify the map, something that will correspond, once the eruptive episode is over, to the National Geographic Institute.

However, the expert volcanologist of the Illustrious College of Geologists José Luis Barrera has explained to Europa Press that private land remaining under the volcanic flow will continue to belong to their owners. “Only the new land that is generated when the lava reaches the sea will automatically belong to the State. Then that land will be public domain,” he said.

The owners of the buried properties will no longer be able to build on them, unless what is geological or historical heritage is modified and “probably” these hectares engulfed by the volcano will be declared a protected area.

Preservation of values

Also, the geologist specifies that the Land Law in force establishes that the use of land with environmental, cultural, historical, archaeological, scientific and landscape values that are subject to protection by the applicable legislation, will always be subject to the preservation of these values, and will only include acts of alteration of the natural state of the land that that legislation expressly authorizes.

In this way, he comments that it is now up to the administrations to decide what to do with these properties, whether to exchange the land to their The government is also considering whether to build a new village or town to relocate those affected, in short, he says that a “complex” process lies ahead.

In his opinion, the “cheapest” thing to do is to build a new small village, with new houses and to be granted similar square meters to those previously owned by the owners.

However, he warns: it will be very important to determine where the population is established again because “next to Cumbre Vieja another volcano will emerge”. “This will not be the last eruption, it could happen again in, say, 20 years, because the earth’s mantle is very close to the surface, about 15 kilometres deep”, insists Barrera, who compares the distance to the earth’s mantle in the western Canary Islands with, for example, the volcanic systems of the Campo de Gibraltar, where the earth’s crust is about 35 kilometres thick.

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