Carmen, a Tenerife woman who studies the volcano in detail from the United Kingdom

Carmen Solana, International Collaborator at the Volcanoes Institute of the Canary Islands, works on the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma. Rava Aveiro (Involcan)

Since she was young, she has been fascinated by volcanoes. She imagined what it would be like to be able to study bangs all over the world, following in the footsteps of so many other women who, all over the world, excelled in this matter, and decided to dedicate her life to it. For a few days, using her sabbatical at the University of Portsmouth (UK), where she teaches as a volcanologist, Tenerife traveled to La Palma to study on site all things Mount Cumbre Vieja. From the ones that began to appear lava on September 19 that keeps the residents of Isla Bonita in check, with devastating effects on homes and farms.

It is precisely about this aspect that the famous scientist speaks in a conversation with DIARIO DE AVISOS. He acknowledges that despite the interest it awakens from a data analysis and documentation perspective for future research, it has been “difficult to see the consequences” that the event produces on many people’s livelihoods. “There are colleagues from other countries who tell me they haven’t seen an eruption in Europe with so much destruction of homes in a long time,” he declared, although there have been events in other pockets outside our continent, such as the island of Hawaii, that are aggressive, with a particular impact on real estate.

Solana is a member of the team of international collaborators at the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute (Involcan), and says that as soon as the seismic swarms brought with them by the movement of molten rock decreased in depth, and foresaw a possible eruption, he made himself available to the organism. : “I have warned Nemesio,” the director of the foundation. Thus, when the volcano erupted in the Cabeza de Vaca (El Paso) region, take a plane to Spain. At twenty he was already working on the ground, and he elaborates, “The observations I made were mainly from a volcanic point of view: lava fountains came out and I took notes and notes that I haven’t processed yet.” The next day, he emphasized, “I collected data on the speed, height and width of the fronts,” in the same way as if they were “hardening and slowing down or if they could continue.”

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To develop his work, he noted that the assistance provided by Dron Services Canarias was of paramount importance, “who collaborated with us and allowed us to [con las imágenes aéreas que han obtenido] Find out if there are specific accumulations that can create new flows “or, conversely, hot rocks flow in only one direction. At this point, he indicates the fall of one of the symbols of this natural phenomenon: the parish of the Todoc neighborhood, in Los Llanos de Arridan “It was very exciting,” he admits, since the material ejected from the Cumbre Vieja moves at a very slow speed, almost excruciating. In fact, it makes it possible for “a person to escape”; its peaks are nearly 500 meters in The hour However, he explained, this did not mean that it did not involve risks, so much so that anyone could be seen, at a given moment, surrounded by lava, trapped and without escape.

Last Thursday afternoon, Carmen Solana left the island on the last ferry. However, the UK continues to closely monitor the development of the volcano, using measurement tools spread across the island and videos provided by the drone company on a daily basis. The arrival of lava to the sea is, in the opinion of a volcanologist, one of the most remarkable episodes of the entire chronology to date. At first, it was estimated that the meeting of the substance at a high temperature with salt water would be in the early days, but the fact is that in order for this to happen it had to come out in large quantities, with “large effusion movements”, or “a channel is formed that moves all lava in the same direction ”; Something happened later, until 11:00 pm on Tuesday, September 28, on the eve of the festival in honor of San Miguel Arcangel, patron of the palm trees, the date was fixed.

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Based on aerial images, Solana, who studied geology and later earned a Ph.D. in volcanology, asserts that from Involcan “we suspect there are some lava tubes.” On recent nights, it was possible to see “lava coming out of the emanation centers, but at first glance it appears that it is not going.” He explains that this is due to the fact that it automatically moves through the tubes until it reaches the head of sparrows, which, in turn, prefer them to do so at a higher speed, maintaining their low viscosity when they are kept warm. . On the other hand, it is just as important that the material coming out now comes from the deeper chambers of the volcano and is more malleable. In this sense, the island scientist alludes to the fact that “within the Involcan team there are petrologists, who see the formation of lava” and are able to calculate the depth from which the magma comes.

normal lava

Carmen Solana, who has studied the eruptions of Etna (Italy), Hawaii and has extensive knowledge of volcanic events at Vesuvius, asserts that “lava appears natural” at Cumbre Vieja, within an event of these characteristics, “whether through behavior or through morphology”. Of course, he realizes that in other places where he was sampling, there is more experience with these events, and then this is an important occasion for the Canary scientific community, which is collecting for the first time all kinds of data on the volcano.

It must be remembered that the previous volcano was Tinéguía, also in La Palma, in 1971. The eruption of Tagoro, at El Hierro (2011), was underwater, and therefore its progression cannot be observed in such detail. However, a volcanologist in Tenerife explains that “physical volcanology is complicated, because we don’t have eyes underground.”

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“I saw Mount Teide and I wanted to know how to mitigate the effects of the eruptions”

“Being from Tenerife, I’ve always been curious about volcanoes; I wanted to know what happened in a volcanic eruption,” Carmen Solana admits to DIARIO. For her, living in the Canary Islands has always been a privilege, much more so considering her interests: “I got up to get up and see Ted from anywhere on the island.”

He was trained in geology and then, when facing the path to his doctoral thesis, he said he saw it clearly: It had to be about volcanology. Specifically, he dealt with the “lava fields of Tenerife”, delving into their formation.

There he realized that he had to devote his life not only to studying how these phenomena occurred, but to “seeing what we can do to mitigate the effects of the eruptions” and to cause as little damage as possible to the population and the population.

When asked about the controversy that arose with the eruption of the volcano, about the appropriateness of construction in certain areas, she indicated that this was due to the “lack of experience” of the islanders with these events, which led to a “false sense of security.”

Likewise, she is confident that better decisions are being made for the future, and that it is taken into account that in 50 years it is not excluded that another volcano will erupt, with everything, as already seen in La Palma, bringing a forger.

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