New Volcano La Palma

Tajogaite, meaning “split mountain,” is the name of the latest volcano to emerge on La Palma during the 2021 eruption. This Strombolian eruption began on Sunday, September 19 at 3:13 pm and concluded on December 13, 2021, lasting 85 days with 8,600 earthquakes, the strongest being magnitude 5.1 at a depth of 36 km, profoundly changing the lives of La Palma’s residents.

tajogaite new volcano la palma

Tajogaite, the Volcano that Transformed La Palma: Thousands Evacuated, Acres Destroyed, and Challenges Ahead

The eruption was the longest in the island’s history. The new La Palma volcano stands at 1120 meters above sea level, boasts six craters, and originated in the ridge of Cumbre Vieja, the island’s youngest part, in an area named “cow’s head” in the municipality of El Paso.

Despite the efforts and coordination of security forces and scientists, the volcano claimed a life, razed over 1,219 hectares, and destroyed 1,288 structures. Lava flowed through El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane, and Tazacorte, where the magma collided with saltwater, plunging down a nearly 100-meter high cliff. After 10 days of volcanic activity, two lava deltas formed, equivalent in size to 28 football fields.

The ash, intense throughout the process, reached neighboring islands such as Tenerife, El Hierro, La Gomera, and Gran Canaria, with the airport rendered inoperable for 10 days.

Residents of El Paraíso were the first to be evacuated, leaving behind memories and belongings. Then, the inhabitants of Todoque, an entirely devastated neighborhood, were also affected, as well as hundreds of farms, businesses, roads, and irrigation systems. In figures, the disaster wiped out 1,219 hectares, displaced 7,000 people, and damaged 73.8 kilometers of roads.The volcano left 2,319 people homeless after destroying 1,345 homes.

  • September 19: After more than 25,000 minor earthquakes over eight days, the eruption begins at 15:10 local time in Cabeza de Vaca, Las Manchas, municipality of El Paso, with two fissures and eight eruptive vents. This is a non-populated area, although there are some houses nearby.
  • September 20: In the first 16 hours, three lava flows up to six meters high are formed. More than 5,000 people, including tourists, are evacuated. A ninth vent is detected in Tacande. The flows, being not very fluid, allow for evacuation.
  • September 21: Lava invades Todoque, a neighborhood of 1,200 inhabitants.
  • September 22: The volcano enters an explosive phase, emitting large amounts of ash.
  • September 24: Two new vents open. Tajuya and parts of Tacande are evacuated. Explosive activity and ash emission intensify, suspending flights in La Palma and La Gomera.
  • September 25: Collapse in the western part of the main cone and opening of a new vent, generating a more intense and fluid lava flow.
  • September 27: The lava, hotter and less viscous because it comes from greater depth, flows faster and increases destruction.
  • September 28: The lava reaches the sea at Playa del Perdido, Tazacorte.
  • October 20: The northern flow crosses La Laguna, engulfing buildings, a gas station, and a pharmacy. A magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the strongest since the eruption began, is recorded.
  • October 23: Partial collapse of the main cone, overflow of lava through a secondary vent. 30 earthquakes are recorded, the largest of 4.3 and 4.9.
  • October 30: First earthquakes of magnitude greater than 5 since the beginning of the eruption, one felt in La Palma, Tenerife, La Gomera, and El Hierro.
  • November 3: The decrease in tremor and reduction of sulfur dioxide indicate a positive evolution of the eruption.
  • November 10: A new flow reaches the sea for the second time at Playa de los Guirres.
  • November 12: A man dies in El Paso due to causes related to the eruption.
  • November 19: New earthquake of 5.1, the strongest since the beginning, felt in neighboring islands.
  • November 22: Lava reaches the sea for the fourth time, leading to the confinement of 3,000 people in Tazacorte.
  • November 25: New vent south of the main cone, generating a more fluid and less viscous flow.
  • November 28 – 30: Opening of a new vent and temporary pause in the activity of the main cone, while the secondary remains active.
  • December 12: The eruption becomes the longest recorded. The tremor disappears, but earthquakes of lesser magnitude continue to be recorded.
  • December 25: Official announcement of the end of the eruption on December 13, after 85 days and 8 hours of activity
colapsed main street El Paso during the erupcion in La Palma
Main road of El Paso collapsed during the eruption
first days of the erupcion
First days of the Tajogaite volcanic eruption

Two years later, La Palma seeks recovery through various means

Of the approximately 7,000 people evacuated within the established safety area, about 1,000 were able to start returning to their homes on January 3, 2022, specifically those whose houses were not damaged by the lava. Before allowing this return, inspections were necessary to ensure the absence of hazardous gases, and certain safety rules were established: it was forbidden to enter garages, storage rooms, or basements where gases could accumulate, homes had to be adequately ventilated, people should not stay alone, and immediate evacuation was required if dizziness or nausea was experienced. It was not until early 2024 that a significant number of residents from Puerto Naos and La Bombilla managed to return to their homes. However, this return does not yet represent a return to complete normalcy. Access restrictions to these areas, including the beaches, which can only be visited with prior authorization, remain in place.

On the other hand, the recent eruption and the possibility of visiting the volcano up close have become a key factor in boosting tourism. However, this sector, on which thousands of people depend, is affected by the restrictions in Puerto Naos, the largest tourist town on the west coast, and because many vacation homes were lost under the lava.

volcano ash la palma
La Palma Volcano ash
hot zone la palma
Hot zone La Palma

The Duality of Nature: Volcanic Eruptions, Losses, and the Creation of Lava Platforms in La Palma

While a volcanic eruption can bring about devastating consequences for affected communities, it’s vital to remember that it is also a part of nature’s imposing and extraordinary force. Eruptions, like that of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma, can lead to loss of material possessions and significant changes in people’s lives; however, they can also give rise to new landscapes and opportunities.

volcano erupcion la palma

The formation of lava deltas is a perfect example of how nature, in its destructive process, can also gift land and beautify the surroundings. These coastal platforms, a result of solidified lava meeting the sea, change La Palma’s silhouette and enrich its biodiversity.

The presence of lava platforms on the island proves that, despite adversities, nature continues its course and finds balance. Although the negative effects of a volcanic eruption are undeniable, it’s essential to appreciate the beauty and opportunities that arise from these natural phenomena. Ultimately, it’s a reminder that nature is a powerful force that both takes and gives, and its capacity for transformation is both astonishing and inspiring.

What is a Lava Platform?

A lava platform or lava delta is a coastal platform primarily formed by volcanic material, like solidified lava and volcanic rock fragments. These formations result from volcanic eruptions that spew lava towards the ocean, where it cools and solidifies rapidly upon contact with the water. Over time, accumulations of lava and other volcanic materials create a flat and relatively stable extension of land on the coast.

Lava platforms are typical features of oceanic islands of volcanic origin, such as the Canary Islands. In these islands, lava platforms have historically been utilized for various activities, including agriculture, fishing, and tourism.

lava platform

Exemple of Lava Plataform in the Canary Island

  • Fajana de Franceses (La Palma): Located in the northwest of La Palma island, Fajana de Franceses is an area of great natural beauty, with cliffs rising abruptly from the sea. It is known for its tranquility and spectacular ocean views.
  • Fajana de Barlovento (La Palma): This platform is located on the northeast coast of La Palma, near the village of Barlovento. It offers an impressive landscape and a variety of natural pools formed by solidified lava for the whole family to enjoy.
  • La Caleta El Hierro: Located on the northwest coast of El Hierro, La Caleta is a protected area that houses a series of natural pools. These pools are the result of the erosive action of the sea on lava platforms and offer a unique place to swim and enjoy the volcanic environment.
  • Malpais de Güímar (Tenerife): On the east coast of Tenerife, Güímar is an example of how volcanic activity has influenced the island’s landscape. Here, solidified lava has created a malpais platform that is now a protected space for trekking with spectacular ocean views.

What to See in La Palma Post-Eruption?

Despite the magnitude of the volcanic eruption in La Palma, it’s important to note that only a part of the island’s total territory was affected. Thus, the vast majority of the island’s natural and cultural wonders remain intact.

While it’s true that some beautiful places have been buried forever under the lava, La Palma still offers a wide variety of natural wonders and spectacular landscapes that have not been altered by the eruption. Also, today it is possible to see:

  • The new volcano of La Palma, Tajogaite, with a guided hiking tour to reach the vicinity of the north crater.
  • Tacande viewpoint with a view of the Tajogaite volcano and the lava flow.
  • Lava platform from the Time viewpoint, from the Port of Tazacorte, or from a boat trip.
  • New coastal road that connects La Laguna to La Manchas.
volcano la palma island

Which Sites Were Lost After the Cumbre Vieja La Palma Eruption?

  • Todoque: A characteristic Canarian neighborhood completely engulfed by lava.
  • Neighborhoods or parts of them belonging to the municipalities of Los Llanos, El Paso, and Tazacorte such as El Paraíso, Los Campitos, Las Manchas, or La Laguna.
  • Playa de los Guirres: Buried by lava reaching the sea.
  • Puerto Naos and La Bombilla: Currently partially inaccessible due to the presence of lethal toxic gases.


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