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Beyond the lava: Where are the volcanoes erupting and how long can they last? – National

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The hot lava coming out of Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to wreak havoc on the Spanish island of La Palma, destroying buildings and forcing mass evacuations.

The La Palma volcanic eruption that began on September 19 is one of more than 50 worldwide that have been marked as continuous since October 12, according to Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program (GVP)with

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This year, 68 outbreaks have been reported in 29 countries, compared to 73 in 2020 and 74 a year earlier.

Volcanoes have erupted across the globe for thousands of years, many of which have remained steadily active for decades.

Despite the spectacular images and videos of eruptions that have become more common in recent years, volcanologists say there is no reason to suggest that volcanic activity has increased worldwide.

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There is no evidence that the number or magnitude or magnitude of volcanic eruptions on Earth is changing at all, said Paul Ashwell, an assistant professor of earth sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The model seems to be quite stable.

Annual eruptions have remained stable over the past three decades.

Graphics by James Hawkins, Global News

What causes volcanic eruptions?

Volcanoes erupt when magma formed from molten rock beneath the Earth’s surface rises through cracks in the Earth’s crust.

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Since semi-molten or molten magma is lighter or more diffuse than its surroundings, this causes it to rise. The explosions are also partly driven by pressure from the dissolved gas contained in the liquid magma.

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Volcanic eruptions typically occur in three types of regions: mid-ocean ridges, subduction zones, and hotspots.

The movement of the segments of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust made possible by heat from the Earth’s interior is what drives volcanic activity in these regions.

Magma is produced under certain circumstances when tectonic plates are moving away from or toward each other, Ashwell explained.

Graphics by James Hawkins, Global News

How long can volcanic eruptions last?

The La Palma volcanic eruption has now entered its fourth week.

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Eruptions can last anywhere from less than a minute to hundreds of thousands of years, said Johan Gilchrist, a researcher in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia.

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According to GVP Smithsonians, there were 101 confirmed eruptions dating back to 1750 that lasted at least 60 months.

An outbreak marked as “continuous”, however, does not mean continuous daily activity, but rather intermittent events without a break of at least three months.

This is unlike an active volcano, which is either erupting or has the potential to erupt in the future. A dormant volcano has not erupted for a long time, but is expected to erupt again.


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The volcano in Russia was previously thought to be extinct missing


The volcano in Russia was previously thought to be missing on June 7, 2019

In general, every volcano has its own signature behavior, said Melanie Kelman, a volcanologist at Canada Natural Resources.

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Depending on the type of volcano, there is great variability in how it can behave and the frequency of its eruption, she said.

The range of behaviors includes some that are continuously active erupting relentlessly for decades, others that are short and then shut down for a long period of time, as well as long-lived, low-level eruptions.

According to Kelman, Canada has at least 28 potentially active volcanoes in British Columbia and the Yukon.

But the country has not seen an eruption in almost 150 years, most recently at Lava Fork in the northwest BC

The most recent significant eruption was on Mount Meager 2,350 years ago. According to Volcanoes Canadawith

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Canada has at least 28 active volcanoes, according to Canada Natural Resources.

Graphics by James Hawkins, Global News

Mount Garibaldi is another one to note, said UBC’s Gilchrist, although there is no evidence of seismic activity or gas release.

However, if it were to explode, it would be a very significant crisis because Squamish is under it and Vancouver could probably be affected by the fall of ash. It would be a very disturbing event.

Because of the tectonic plates of the region where the oceanic plate is sinking beneath the North American plate, Gilchrist said he would not be surprised if at some point in the future probably thousands of years from now there will be another explosive or explosive eruption in BC

Can volcanoes be controlled?

What makes responding to explosions challenging is the short warning period, experts say.

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Sometimes you can get a week in advance for some of the eruptions we’ve monitored in the last 50 years or so, Gilchrist said.

Other times, it may be almost without warning.

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And once the eruptions start, very little can be done to control the lava flow, experts say.

But the damage can be mitigated by evacuating on time and having emergency plans in place.

Diversion of lava flow away from built-up areas is another option that has been used in the past, but with little success, said Ashwell from U of T Mississauga.


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Drone footage captures stunning images of Icelandic volcano erupting on March 22, 2021

To better respond to the danger, Gilchrist said it would be helpful to study the history of volcanoes to understand all of the expected eruption styles and the risks associated with them for nearby communities. But even that plan is not bulletproof due to the unpredictable nature of the explosions.

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During an explosion, we can use some models as the data comes in and try to predict how the risks will turn out, he said.

But when the eruptions are too big, we are at the mercy of nature, “Gilchrist added.

The best thing we can do is have evacuation plans ready to execute them and hopefully execute them properly and get people out of the way.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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