Surreal Photos Reveal the Destructive Aftermath of the Cumbre Vieja Volcano Eruption

House on La Palma Buried Under Volcanic Ash

Austrian photographer Wolfgang Bohusch is known for his editorial and lifestyle photography, but he still makes time for personal projects. In 2021, he began tracking the Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption in the Canary Islands, sparked by his love for the location and for geology. What followed was an adventure to see the aftermath of this natural disaster that ended with a surreal portfolio of images.

Cumbre Vieja is located on the island of La Palma on the Canary Islands. The active volcano ridge had been silent for 50 years, but in 2021 it rumbled to life once again. A little over a week after a swarm of earthquakes occurred under Cumbre Vieja, the volcano began erupting. The event lasted for 85 days, making it the longest eruption in the history of La Palma.

The effects of the volcano were dramatic. Over 1,000 hectares of land were covered by lava, which destroyed over 3,000 homes. At its widest point, the river of lava stretched out over 2 miles, and 7,000 people were forced to evacuate.

As Bohusch tracked the event from home, he became curious about the state of the island in the aftermath of the volcano. So, once the situation was under control and the airport opened up, he hopped on a plane to see what he could find.

The results speak for themselves. Bohusch artfully captured the effects of the volcano. His photographs are filled with black, powdery volcanic ash that has swallowed up much of the island. In one image, we see the front of a home engulfed in ash. The brilliant burgundy hue of the exterior provides a rich contrast to the remnants of the volcano that creep over the fence.

In another image, the roof of a car peeks out from a river of ash, almost completely submerged. Bohusch also gives a glimpse of the recovery, as we see a front loader attempting to clear a path through the black powder. As this powerful piece of machinery almost looks like a toy as makes its way through the sea of ash and attempts to make a dent in the destruction.

Bohusch's photographs are visually powerful and at first glance, without knowledge of the story, are surreal. But, once one realizes what we're looking at, they tell a bigger story about the power of nature and the devastating impact it can have on humans.

Photographer Wolfgang Bohusch traveled to the Canary Islands to photograph the impact of a volcanic eruption.

Car Buried Under Volcanic Ash

In 2021, the Cumbre Vieja eruption lasted for nearly three months and wreaked havoc on the island of La Palma.

Aftermath of Cumbre Vieja Volcano on La Palma

House Buried by Cumbre Vieja Volcano

Bohusch traveled to La Palma as soon as the airport opened up to document the aftermath of this natural disaster.

Aftermath of Cumbre Vieja Volcano on La Palma

Aftermath of Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the Canary Islands

Aftermath of Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the Canary Islands

Wolfgang Bohusch: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Wolfgang Bohusch.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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