This Thursday (16), Spanish authorities announced that the alert level of the eruption of the volcano Cumbre Vieja, located on the island of La Palma, in the Spanish Canary Islands archipelago, is in yellow. According to researchers, the volcano could trigger a tsunami capable of hitting all the Americas.

According to the MetSul portal, the greatest impact would be on the coasts of the North and Northeast regions of Brazil. 

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Dormant for decades, the volcano began to show signs of moderate activity on Saturday (11). “He wasn't showing any signs of eruption, but now he's reached a second level. There are four alert levels. It may have an eruption, but it does not mean that this eruption will generate a tsunami, but it is a possibility, even if it is minimal”, explained Carlos Teixeira, researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the UFC (Federal University of Ceará), in an interview with UOL.

According to the National Geographic Institute of Spain (IGN-ES), which is posting real-time information about Cumbre Vieja on its website, “a seismic activity The volcano continues to migrate slightly to the northwest, at depths of about 8 km, with 50 shallow earthquakes between 1 and 5 km also being recorded”. The institution claims that the maximum accumulated deformation reaches about 10 cm.

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“As of 9:30 am UTC [6:30 am Brasília time] today, 4.530 were detected earthquakes in the southern part of the island of La Palma, of which a total of 1023 were located. Activity continues to migrate slightly towards the northwest. Since 00:11 UTC on the 15th [21:11 on the 14th, via the Brasilia time zone], 50 earthquakes have been located at depths between 1 and 5 km. The energy accumulated so far is 2,8 × 10 11 Joules,” reads the latest alert from IGN-ES.

Cumbre Vieja volcano, located on the island of La Palma, Spain, could erupt. Tsunami capable of hitting the Americas could be one of the consequences. Image: Masi Perez – Shutterstock

Explosive eruption would cause tsunami; magnitude is still unknown

Teixeira claims that the hypothesis that a tsunami could be caused by the eruption of Cumbre Vieja has already been confirmed by several researches. “There are several studies published about this possibility of tsunami. It's a real hypothesis, and it would happen if there were an explosive eruption”, says Carlos Teixeira. 

According to a survey carried out by the geologist from the Geology Department of the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), Mauro Gustavo Resse Filho, the island of La Palma is 4.462 km from São Luís do Maranhão. "It is estimated that the next eruption could destabilize the island's slope due to factors such as the slope of the volcano, volume of mobilized material, climatic factors and, above all, an existing weakness zone that will facilitate the occurrence of mass movement."

However, for Teixeira, there is no reason to worry at the moment. “If this possibility of an eruption occurs, it doesn't mean it's going to be explosive; if it is, it doesn't mean that it will arrive here with waves of eight, ten meters; it can get here much smaller”, he explains.

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