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Canary island La Palma sees 352 earthquakes in ten days

The Canary holiday island of La Palma has experienced more than 300 mini-earthquakes over the past the week, scientists report.

A majority of the tremors were so small they could not be located by scientists, let alone felt by any residents on La Palma.

This followed a smaller ‘swarm’ of tremours over the weekend before last of 40 recorded in 48 hours, taking the total of mini-quakes to 352 in just ten days. 

Shaken: More than 350 mini-earthquakes have been recorded by seismologists on La Palma in the past ten days, and scientists are now set to carry out tests on the island’s active volcano

Scientists are now monitoring the seismic activity on La Palma 24 hours per day, and are set to carry out tests on the slopes of the island’s active volcano – Cumbre Vieja.

Between October 6 and 7, more than 40 tremors were recorded, with the most powerful hitting 2.7 on the Richter scale, located at a depth of 17.4miles.

A few days of peace followed between October 10 and 13, when seismographers on La Palma picked up another ‘swarm’ of tremours.

On October 13, some 44 quakes were recorded at depths of between 9.3miles and 13.6miles, the most powerful at 2.1 on the Richter scale.

The National Geographic Institute (IGN) notes that volcanic monitoring will continue for 24 hours per day, and that a team is to be sent to La Palma to carry out CO2 profiles and structural studies of Cumbre Vieja. 

Rare: Such seismic activity is not usual on Palma but, experts say, not abnormal 

Rare: Such seismic activity is not usual on Palma but, experts say, not abnormal 

In a report published on Saturday, the IGN adds that one of the reasons for the high number of tremours could be the three new monitoring stations.

These were put in place following the first round of mini-quakes reported last week, increasing the ability to record seismic activity. 

La Palma is the most north-westerly island of the Canary Islands, and is home to some 86,000 people – a population which increases significantly during tourist season.

Like the other Canary Islands, La Palma is volcanic and is considered the most ‘active’ in the archipelago.

The most recent eruption on the island, which saw the Cumbre Vieja – ‘Old Summit’ – volcano erupt, took place in 1971.

The current event has been dubbed a ‘seismic swarm’, and while unusual, large numbers of these smaller tremors are not abnormal, the director of the IGN in the Canary Islands, María José Blanco, told Canarias7.

However, she added that they had “never recorded a similar swarm’ since monitoring began on La Palma.

The IGN and the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan) have increased surveillance on the island to monitor the increase in seismic activity.

A spokesperson for Involcan told Canarias7 that ‘seismic swarms’ are ‘absolutely normal’ for an active volcano such as Cumbre Vieja.