June 8, 2023

Sulfur Skies Over La Palma – No Signs That Cumbre Vieja Volcanic Eruption Is Calming

“I dont anticipate any lasting international or local environment impacts. The sulfur dioxide emissions arent high enough,” said Carn.

October 18, 2021
Volcanoes emit sulfur dioxide– a pungent gas that reacts with oxygen and moisture in the air to produce a haze called vog.
More than a month after Cumbre Vieja began appearing, the volcano in the Canary Islands shows no indications of relaxing. In the previous week, significantly intense earthquakes, lava water fountains, and emissions of ash and volcanic gases have actually rocked La Palma.
One new breakout lava flow has actually been advancing through a developed location on the islands western flank, consuming structures and fields in its path. Nearly 2,000 homes and hundreds of hectares of farmland have actually been ruined by lava flows since the eruption began in September 2021.

Amongst the compounds pouring from the volcano is sulfur dioxide (SO2), a pungent gas that reacts with oxygen and wetness to form a gray volcanic haze called vog. Vog is made up of sulfuric acid and sulfate aerosols.
While weather condition patterns generally blow vog west from Cumbre Vieja over the Atlantic Ocean, moves in the winds occasionally bring plumes northeast toward Europe. “This plume is scattered enough that I anticipate very little effect on surface air quality and very little acid rain over Europe in comparison to local sources of air contamination,” said Michigan Tech volcanologist Simon Carn.
Satellite observations indicate Cumbre Vieja has actually released about 0.5 teragrams (Tg) of sulfur dioxide given that the eruption started, enough to make it among the leading 50 SO2 emissions events considering that satellites began determining volcanic eruptions in 1978. Cumbre Vieja is still far behind other current effusive eruptions that continued for months, such as Kilauea (Hawaii) in 2018 and Holuhraun (Iceland) in 2014.
Because the Cumbre Vieja eruption is only decently explosive (a 2 out of 8 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index), the sulfur dioxide has actually stayed fairly low in the environment and well listed below the stratosphere. “I do not expect any lasting international or regional environment impacts. The sulfur dioxide emissions arent high enough,” stated Carn. “However, the SO2 emissions may have some localized environmental effect on La Palma and other Canary islands, such as damage to vegetation due to acid deposition and problems with water quality.”
NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using OMI information from NASAs Aura satellite.