This infrared image of the lava rivers making their way through the west of the island of La Palma was taken from NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite with its OLI (Operational Land Imager) camera a few days ago, before the lava reached the sea off the coast of Tazacorte.
After Cumbre Vieja opened up and began to erupt on September 19, 2021, a wall of slow-moving basaltic lava began to make its way through populated parts of La Palma.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured the spectacular image on September 26, which reveals the hottest parts of the flow, NASA reports.
The lava flows have destroyed more than 500 homes, buried dozens of kilometers of roads and consumed farmland as molten rock crawls down the volcanic island’s western flank toward the ocean.
Many of the white rectangular features near the coast are greenhouses, some already ravaged by lava on its way to the sea. The dark green areas along the coast are crops, mostly banana trees. The volcanic plume flowing northeast contains a mixture of ash, sulfur dioxide, and other volcanic gases.
A lull in activity on the morning of Sept. 27 suggested that the eruption might be subsiding, but explosive activity resumed later in the day, according to the Institute of Volcanology of the Canary Islands (INVOLCAN). INVOLCAN experts have indicated that the current eruption could persist for weeks or months. Late on September 28, the river of lava reached the sea extending the emerged surface with a delta-shaped area.
La Palma last erupted 50 years ago, in the Teneguía. The most recent eruption in the Canary Islands occurred in 2011, when an underwater vent on El Hierro came to life.