canary islands

The recent volcano eruption created 34 beaches on the island of La Palma

The beaches would have formed in short periods of 24 to 48 hours after the stabilisation of the respective lava fronts from the eruption of the volcano Cumbre Vieja on the island of La Palma, Canary Islands, in 2021.

A team of researchers from the University Institute of Oceanography and Global Change at ULPGC has conducted a groundbreaking study, documenting the sudden emergence of 34 beaches in the lava deltas of La Palma volcano during the eruption.

Through the analysis of aerial orthophotographs captured by drones flying over the area, the researchers were able to identify and count the formation of 34 new beaches. These beaches appeared within a short period of 24 to 48 hours after the stabilization of the respective lava fronts, as stated in the ULPGC’s official statement.

While most of these newly formed beaches demonstrated durability in the short and medium term, they exhibited dynamic morphological patterns and underwent constant changes. These alterations were highly variable over time, likely attributed to the initial sensitivity and imbalance of the newly formed terrain in relation to the marine energy conditions in the coastal environment.


This research marks the first international documentation of beach formation and its initial behavior during volcanic events, made possible through the utilization of state-of-the-art technology. The study not only confirms the eruption’s natural laboratory characteristic, enabling real-time observation of various geological phenomena, but also celebrates the advancements in scientific understanding facilitated by the research.

The study primarily focuses on the emergence rhythms of the beaches and their morphological dynamics during the first 3 to 5 months following their formation.

Nicolás Ferrer Valero led the research team, which included Néstor Marrero Rodríguez, Abel San Romualdo Collado, Leví García Romero, and Juana Vegas, a researcher from the Spanish Geological and Mining Institute.

Funded by the MESVOL project, with support from the Ministry of Science and Innovation for monitoring, evaluation, and multidisciplinary follow-up of the volcanic eruption in La Palma, this research has been published in Geomorphology, a highly regarded scientific journal in the field of Geosciences.

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