835-acre tongue of molten rock created in sea off La Palma from volcanic explosion

The surface of Spain’s La Palma island is continuing to expand as lava from a volcano flows into the Atlantic Ocean and hardens when it comes into contact with the water, European Union scientists said Thursday.

Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation program, said Thursday that its satellite imagery showed a D-shaped tongue of molten rock building up on the island’s western shore measured 338 hectares (835 acres) by the end of Wednesday.

Trade winds typical of Spain’s Canary Islands were helping dispel the plumes of water vapor and toxic gases that result when the lava with a temperature of over 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 F) meets the ocean, where the water is 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 F).

But authorities were on alert because Spain’s weather forecaster, AEMET, indicated the wind’s direction could change later Thursday and bring the toxic plumes toward the shore and farther inland.

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