September 26, 2021
7 mins read

Scientific chronology of articles on the La Palma volcano

photo of volcano
Photo by Matteo Badini on

This article is intended to be a summary of scientific articles that have been talking about volcanic activity on the island of La Palma. On  September 11,  2021, a series of tremors began on this island that led on  September 19 to the eruption of the new volcano of La Palma in Cumbre Vieja, a nature park formed by several extinct volcanoes.

La Palma is one of the youngest islands in the Canary Islands and historically the most active and this new volcano of La Palma proves it. In addition, it is one of the greatest potential risks of the volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands and therefore it is important to carry out an in-depth study to define its state. The scientific community works to be able to discover and detect the events that may occur.

The articles shared in some cases are free to read, free, but in other cases it is necessary to have an academic account (belong or have belonged to a faculty) or have to pay to download or view its content.

Work methodology

A Google search was performed by searching by the DOI identifier. A  DOI  (Digital Object Identifier) is a way to identify a digital document. That document can be an e-article from a journal, a chapter from an e-book, regardless of its URL. That is, if the URL changes, the DOI that somehow reflects an immutable temporary mark of that document will not do so.

The DOI  is the most used indicator today to identify electronic scientific articles,  scientific journals, parts of articles, audios, videos, images and even software.

A search is performed by years and only articles that have a DOI identifier. Being a Google search, it must be said that it does not cover all the articles published on the network, it only covers those that Google has indexed in its index.

Publications between 1999 and 2010

If we look for articles with DOI between 1999 and 2010  we find 11 results. Some of that list are quotes in which  Cumbre Vieja appears although they have nothing to do with its volcanic activity. I will comment on some of them arranged chronologically.

  • Article published in 1999  with DOI;2  entitled Later stages of volcanic evolution of La Palma, Canary Islands: Rift evolution, giant landslides, and the genesis of the Caldera de Taburiente. In this work they conclude that the volcanic activity in La Palma is concentrated in the only volcano currently active on the island, Cumbre Vieja that may show signs of being unstable.
  • Article published in 2001  with DOI  titled  Cumbre Vieja Volcano — Potencial collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Island. This work is quite controversial since its authors Steven N. Ward  and  Simon Day, propose a theory about a megatsunami associated with the collapse of one of the slopes of the Cumbre Vieja volcano. In their conclusions they talk about geological evidence that suggests the possibility that in a future eruption of the volcano may experience a catastrophic collapse one of its slopes, causing a tsunami that can affect the east coast of the United States, as well as the west coast of Europe and Africa. This is a theory although the authors are based on the misunderstanding that these slope collapse events following a volcanic eruption have already occurred in the past.
  • Article published in 2010  with DOI  is entitled Shallow flank deformation at Cumbre Vieja volcano (Canary Islands): Implications on the stability of steep-sided volcano flanks at oceanic islands. It reports using data from InSAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry, is a RADAR technique used in geodesy and remote sensing) a slow sinking rate on the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, and a prominent low-density zone identified using a new structural gravity model.

Publications between 2011 and 2015

If we look for articles with DOI between 2011 and 2015  we find  30 results. In the same way as the previous search many links of this list are citations of other articles in which Cumbre Viejaappears.

Also some of these links do not really have to do with the keywords that are searched since what Google has linked is a page in which as the most shared article is one in which Cumbre Vieja appears, therefore, the linked article has nothing to do with what is sought. What’s more, the third and final page of results is just this.

  • In 2012 the article Helium emission at Cumbre Vieja volcano, La Palma, Canary Islands is published  with DOI In it its authors are based on the study of soil gases, specifically Helium. The enrichments of helium in the soil layer with respect to the air concentration measured in Cumbre Vieja indicate a strong structural control in the degassing processes of the volcano. Helium is emitted along the North-South and North-West fissures, making them zones of greater permeability for deep gas migration and preferential routes for degassing. This exit of helium may be indicative of a future eruption as it has occurred and which was discussed in the eruption of the island of Hierro  by  Involcan  (Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands) in 2013. Also, the article with DOI refers to this.
  • In 2015  an article entitled Hazard potential of volcanic flank collapses raised by new megatsunami evidence was published with DOI In this article he shows that one of the most prominent oceanic volcanoes on Earth,  Fogo,in the Cape Verde Islands,  catastrophically collapsed and caused a megatsunami with devastating effects approximately  73,000 years ago. Although the evidence is difficult to prove and there are divergent opinions on this.
  • Also in 2015 the article entitled Diffuse CO2  degassing and volcanic activity at Cape Verde islands, West Africa was published  with DOI In this paper they comment that diffuse DEGASSING of CO2 is clearly related to the level of volcanic activity and can be used as a useful geochemical tool for volcano monitoring programs in  Cape Verde.

Publications between 2016 and 2021

Finally, I comment on several articles published between 2016 and today. In this case there is much more information. Some articles are as follows:

  • In 2017 an article entitled Geochemical and Volcanological Evolution of La Palma, Canary Islands is published  with DOI  In it the authors show a possible link between La Palma and El Hierro, and corroborates the complexity of the sources of their mantle. The data also show relative movements between the lithosphere (solid surface layer of the Earth, characterized by its rigidity) and the asthenosfera (upper zone of the Earth’s mantle that is below the lithosphere).
  • Also in 2017, the article Muography of 1949 fault in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain is published  with DOI Muography is used to study the fault formed in the  1949 Teneguía eruption in La Palma.
  • In 2019 an article entitled La Palma landslide tsunami: computation of the tsunami source with a calibrated multi-fluid Navier–Stokes model and wave impact assessment with propagation models of different types with DOI  10.5194/nhess-2019-225 is published.  This article also discusses the potential collapse of the flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano and its impact on Europe, France and Guadeloupe. The potential risk of damage to the areas affected by the tsunami that is generated through our mathematical calculations is reduced.
  • In 2020,  a paper was published How Would the Potential Collapse of the Cumbre Vieja Volcano in La Palma Canary Islands Impact the Guadeloupe Islands? Insights into the Consequences of Climate Change  with DOI It is discussed how a possible tsunami will affect the archipelago of the Guadeloupe Islands of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Also in 2020  was published the article  Geodetic Study of the 2006–2010 Ground Deformation in La Palma (Canary Islands): Observational Results on DOI Recent activity and unrest in the archipelago, the moderate seismicity observed in 2017 and 2018 and the possibility of catastrophic landslides related to the Cumbre Vieja volcano have made it highly recommended to ensure realistic knowledge of the deformation of the bottom surface on the island. Here the authors work with the results of observations obtained during the period 2006-2010 using geodesic techniques such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), Advanced Differential Aperture Radar Interferometry (A-DInSAR) and microgravimetry. These results show that, although there are no significant associated variations in gravity, there is a clear surface deformation that is spatially and temporally variable.
  • In 2021 the article Detection of volcanic unrest onset in La Palma, Canary Islands, evolution and implications was published  with DOI In this article he reports that the beginnings of volcanic disturbances were detected in ilsa de La Palma for several decades. The geodesic techniques employed in this article allow the monitoring of the fluid, migration induced by magma injection in depth and identification of the existence of sources of dislocation under the volcano of La Palma in Cumbre Vieja, which could be associated, according to this article of January 2021, with a future volcanic eruption.


We can therefore speak of the therefore that all these scientific articles have advanced a volcanic eruption and the formation of the La Palma volcano, as happened on September 19, 2021. Science and the scientists who develop it demonstrate day by day how necessary it is for the human being to understand what surrounds him. It is its many forms, one of them is to anticipate events.

This article has summarized part of the scientific work developed in the last 20 years that has mentioned the island of La Palma. It is a bibliographic search without any other pretension. Perhaps it can serve a researcher or someone curious who today is looking for information about what is happening in the Canary Islands.

The earth is in continuous change and there is a very important internal dynamic. The volcanic islands that have arisen from areas of the crust in which magma has ascended from other inner layers of the earth is a demonstration of this. There are currently more than 1500 volcanoes on earth in the world, of which about  50, such as the volcano of La Palma, erupt every year.

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Avelino Dominguez

👨🏻‍🔬 Biologist 👨🏻‍🎓 Teacher 👨🏻‍💻 Technologist 📊 Statistician 🕸 #SEO #SocialNetwork #Web #Data ♟Chess 🐙 Galician

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