The sulfur plume caused by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma (Spain) has reached Morocco. But don’t worry, this cloud of poisonous gas will have no effect on our health. Explanations.
The Cumbre Vieja volcano, erupting since December 19, continues to cause damage. He is also responsible for the arrival of a toxic cloud covering the entire Maghreb. This cloud travels over thousands of kilometers and will reach the Iberian Peninsula, France and southern Italy in the next few hours.
Indeed, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, “the cloud of ash and sulfur dioxide has already reached African territory and continues to advance from south to north Morocco, with a trajectory that will eventually cover the Iberian Peninsula”.
Predicted transport of sulphur dioxide from eruption of #OldCum #LaPalma volcano???? over the next few days in the @CopernicusECMWF Atmosphere Monitoring Service @ECMWF forecast initialized 20 Sept 12 UTC visualized by @Windycom https://t.co/YodDe37PUy #Lapalmaerupcion pic.twitter.com/JX00t1IVx6
– Mark Parrington (@m_parrington) September 21, 2021
The seriousness lies in these emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a “colorless, dense, toxic gas whose inhalation is highly irritating”. The Cumbre Vieja volcano currently emits between 7,997 and 10,665 tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per day, according to the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute.
The Spanish center for monitoring the atmosphere AEMET Izana, however, indicates that “the SO2 concentrations measured in recent days are from the surface to the top of the atmosphere. SO2 can therefore concentrate in certain layers at a height where it has no direct impact on the population ”.
Very high rates at the source, but which when moving will not present a risk. “The amounts of sulfur thus emitted into the upper atmosphere are diluted and lost in concentration,” said the meteorologist The King sings.
For his part, Albert Barniol, director of meteorological within the RTVE, explains “that it is very important to keep in mind that these high concentrations will occur at about five kilometers in height and therefore very far from the surface”. “In other words, the arrival of these gases will not involve any risk for the population. In the best case, a slightly cloudy sky will be appreciated ”, underlines Barniol.
The volcanic eruption continues in La Palma (Canary Islands) ???? The lava flows have slowed down, but the sulfur cloud plume is still present, although limited: it is a lateral eruptive mouth that had formed on the slopes of the main volcano. https://t.co/0H1mFmokEm
– The Weather Channel (@lachainemeteo) September 23, 2021
The risk of acid rain cannot be ruled out either. “If the cloud is at our altitude, the rains will fix the sulfur dioxide on the ground. This would lower the concentration in the air, ”explains Julie Gault of the regional air observatory (Atmo) in New Aquitaine. “On the other hand, if it is at a higher altitude, the rain will bring down sulfur dioxide and molecules to our height. Acid rain therefore, which, if it were to last, could have an impact on the environment, buildings, or even statues, ”she explains to France 3.
In France the website of the Ministry of Ecology warns against SO2, a “pollutant that causes irritation of the mucous membranes, skin and respiratory tract – cough, respiratory discomfort, asthmatic disorders”.
For the time being, no alert has been issued by the Directorate of National Meteorology (DMN) in Morocco.
The eruption of the volcano of La Palma could last between 24 and 84 days, given that it would contain between 17 and 20 million cubic meters of lava, indicates the Volcanic Institute of the Canary Islands.