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ESA Captures Satellite Image of La Palma Lava Flow into the Atlantic

2nd October 2021
La Palma lava flows into the sea
La Palma lava flows into the sea

A cascade of lava spilling into the Atlantic ocean from the Spanish island of La Palma has been photographed by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The lava from the volcanic eruption extends the size of the coastline and covered about 20 hectares when the image was taken, the ESA says.

It was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission on September 30th.

The eruption began when a crack opened in the Cumbre Vieja volcano on September 19th, throwing plumes of ash and lava into the air.

Lava then flowed down the mountain and through villages engulfing everything in its path. Around 5,000 residents in four villages were evacuated, and hundreds of homes and buildings destroyed.

By September 28th, the six-km long lava flow had reached the Atlantic on the island’s west coast. Clouds of white steam were reported where the red-hot lava hit the water in the Playa Nueva area, the ESA says.

The Sentinel-2 mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites, each equipped with a high-resolution multispectral imager fitted with 13 spectral bands to monitor changes in the Earth’s land and vegetation.

The image was processed using a shortwave infrared channel to highlight the lava flow.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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