While the Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to erupt and no one dares to predict when it will end, the eyes of many are already turning to another volcanic cone that, according to experts, it is still ‘alive’ and is liable to awaken from its slumber at any time, although at the moment there are no indications that this will happen anytime soon. The Teide, the most famous of all the Spanish volcanoes, is also one of the most potentially destructive due to its characteristics.
In fact, scientists have a list of volcanoes to watch closely (actually, they are watched) in Europe: Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei (Italy), Santorini (Greece) and Teide (Spain).
It must be taken into account that the island of Tenerife was formed and grew due precisely to the successive volcanic eruptions that it has suffered over the centuries. Teide is one of the volcanoes that the island has, but not the only one. It is a volcano of the polygenetic type, that is, it has had several eruptions and in each one of them it has been growing.
Volcanologists consider Teide a potentially dangerous volcano. It is not known when, but it will erupt at some point. And it it can happen in two ways, through violent and explosive processes (the typical image of lava jumping through the air at high altitude) or effusive, with lava emission but without an explosive character. The latter is what happened in 1909 with the Chinyero volcano, located next to Teide.
The experts are clear: it is not possible to know what the next eruption will be like, whether effusive or explosive, nor exactly where it will occur, but what is certain is that there will be one.
Of the eruptions that Tenerife has suffered throughout history the most violent, which produced fatalities, was the triple eruption of Fasnia, Arafo and Siete Fuentes, between December 1704 and January 1705.
As Janire Prudencio, an expert in volcanic seismology from the University of Granada, recently commented, “what must also be taken into account is that if Mount Teide or any of the volcanoes in Tenerife were to erupt, it would cause a very complicated situation. First, because the island is much more populated than it was in 1909 [cuando la erupción del Chinyero] and, second, because our technological and infrastructure vulnerability is much higher, as we discovered in April 2010 with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull ”.
That eruption, which was considered small due to its size, caused a strong disturbance in air traffic over several days and even and it was necessary to close air navigation in most of northern Europe. It is a warning of what can happen in the case of an eruption much closer to the European continent, such as that of Teide.
“Many possibilities of eruption”
For its part, the Asociación Volcanes de Canarias, made up of professionals and amateurs in this field on the islands, explains that “geological history reveals that this stratovolcano has many possibilities of eruption,” says the entity on its website.
This entity points out that “the volcanic system of Tenerife comprises not only the Teide-Pico Viejo, but also the entire volcanic edifice that emerges from the ocean floor. Being really objective, all areas of the island are likely to experience a volcanic eruption, although there are areas with greater probability. Experts consider that, in addition to the center of the island, it is the ridges (alignments of volcanoes) of Tenerife that have the best conditions to see an eruption ”.
The National Geographic InstituteHe states that “from the study of its long eruptive history it can be deduced that [la erupción] it could have any explosive value, depending on the type of magmas involved (basaltic, phonolitic or a mixture of them), with the basalts always having the lowest explosiveness and the highest probability of occurrence ”.
The director of the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (Involcan), Nemesio Pérez, recalls that there have been low explosive eruptions in that area, which would be the most likely in the future, but that more explosive episodes have also been interspersed.
In this regard, he points out that “the recurrence of explosive eruptions in Tenerife could be of the order of several thousand years, while the recurrence of those with a low explosive index would be around decades or a few hundred years.”
How is Teide being watched? As has been seen in the case of Cumbre Vieja in La Palma, an effective surveillance device continuously monitors the activity of the volcano, thanks to an extensive network of sensors distributed throughout the island of Tenerife, which account for the most minimal seismic, geochemical, geological variation and other characteristics.
These sensors make it possible to detect deformation of the ground even as small as one millimeter. All this system allows, therefore, to anticipate with a certain margin the possible appearance of an eruption and to schedule the eventual evacuation of the part of the island affected by this volcanic event.
The body responsible for volcanic surveillance in Spain is the National Geographic Institute (IGN), which has the obligation to observe the volcanic system and notify the authorities of any changes that occur.
Documented historical eruptions of Mount Teide:
-Eruption of Crab Mouth (1492): This eruption was seen by Christopher Columbus during his passage through the south of Tenerife on his way to the discovery of America.
-Eruptions of the years 1704-1705: It took place through three sources of emission: Siete Fuentes, Fasnia volcano and Valle mountain or Las Arenas volcano.
-Eruption of Trevejos or Garachico (1706): It happened on May 5, 1706, about 8 kilometers south of the town of Garachico.
-Eruption of Chahorra (1798): The eruption occurred in the Pico Viejo on June 9, 1798 and ended on September 8 of the same year.
-Eruption of Chinyero (1909): It started on November 18, 1909 and lasted 10 days.
It may interest you: Teneguía, 1971: The last great volcanic eruption in Spain
Teide monitoring website: https://www.volcanesdecanarias.com/control-teide/
Web on Teide: https://www.volcanesdecanarias.org/tenerife/
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.