Science

Politician suggests bombardment of La Palma volcano to stop lava flow

Bombarding the hot lava flows from La Palma’s still-erupting volcano may be the only way to avoid the destruction that the molten rivers are causing, a Spanish politician has suggested. The bombardments could be used, according to its defender, to redirect deadly lava flowing into populated areas.

The La Cumbre Vieja volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands entered its 42nd day of eruptions on Monday (November 1). Around 7,000 locals have been forced to flee their homes as lava flows, gushing from the volcano up to thousands of feet in the air, have devastated homes, offices and large swaths of land in the southwestern part of the island. Live Science previously reported.

According to the latest survey by the European Copernicus satellite system, lava has destroyed 2,519 buildings and now covers 3.6 square miles (9.4 square kilometers). With the island bracing for even greater destruction due to a series of earth-shaking earthquakes in recent days, Casimiro Curbelo, president of the town hall of La Gomera, a neighboring island, has suggested that lava flows could be diverted through more extreme measures: get a plane to bomb them.

Related: Big Explosions: The 10 Most Destructive Volcanoes Ever

“Isn’t there a plane that can fly and fall [a bomb]? It comes, falls and boom. And send the lava in another direction? “Curbelo said during a debate on Radio Faycán de Canarias.” Maybe it’s crazy, but it gives me the impression from a technological point of view that you have to try. “

Curbelo’s suggestion drew criticism and produced a handful of memes depicting him alongside Bruce Willis in the movie “Armageddon,” in which the actor’s character is tasked with destroying an Earth-bound asteroid with a nuclear bomb.

But despite the mockery directed at him, Curbelo’s bizarre proposal is unprecedented. In 1935, when lava flowing from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano began to trickle dangerously near the town of Hilo, the U.S. Army commanded by future General George S. Patton dropped 20 high-explosive bombs on it. Lava river. After the bombardment, the lava flow stopped, but the mission’s success has been questioned: both pilots and geologists who flew the bombing mission believed the flow was slowing down anyway, according to the Geological Survey of The US and subsequent assessments by the USGS support the conclusion that his arrest was a coincidence, the USGS said.

More recently, in 1983, a more successful attempt was made using dynamite to divert the lava flow from the erupting Mount Etna, away from a nearby village. Engineers placed about 900 pounds (408 kilograms) of explosives, encased in water-cooled pipes, next to the flow. The goal was to turn the lava river into an artificial trench. The experiment was successful, according to one of the engineers at the time, throwing most of the lava into an artificial trench where it was redirected. But the explosion also split another part of the lava stream, sending many locals up the mountain with shovels to deal with the new and unpredictable branches of the stream.

The Spanish army has not responded to Curbelo’s suggestion, nor has the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez. However, Sánchez has vowed to speed up aid deliveries to devastated residents.

The eruption has not caused any deaths and life has been relatively calm for the 85,000 residents who live far from the western side of the island, which is badly affected.

The volcano is close to hitting its 1949 record of 47 days for its longest eruption time.

Originally posted on Live Science.

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