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View of the crater of the Pico Viejo volcano.

Tenerife - El Teide National Park 

Tenerife's special landscape is the result of millions of years of volcanism

The Canary Islands are located on a so-called volcanic hotspot. Below the archipelago the African tectonic plate is moving eastwards at 2.5 centimeters per year and that is where it formed a chain of 7 volcanic islands. Over millions of years, the huge Las Cañadas volcano was formed in the heart of the island of Tenerife to a height of 4,500 meters above sea level. Very violent eruptions blew out the underlying magma chambers and caused the volcano top of Las Cañadas to completely collapse. This process was repeated several times over a very long period. The last series of eruptions ended about 200,000 years ago with the total collapse of the volcanic cone. More than 1,000 cubic kilometers (!) of land mass slid south towards the ocean. What remained was a crater measuring 16 by 11 kilometers, the Las Cañadas caldera.

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At the bottom of the caldera, which is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sealevel, two new volcanoes have formed in 200,000 years. El Teide and the flank volcano Pico Viejo. El Teide now rises 1,718 meters above the caldera plain. The Pico Viejo has a height of 1,134 meters.

From the top of the El Teide volcano you have a spectacular view southwards of the huge caldera of what was once the Las Cañadas volcano. In the distance a part of the 45 kilometer long crater rim of the Las Cañadas caldera.


Lavaflows from Mount Teide and Pico Viejo in the Las Cañadas caldera.

Hiking in a sea of fossilized lava. Left the peak of the flank volcano Pico Viejo, right the peak of the volcano El Teide.


Hiking in the Las Cañadas caldera is a spectacular experience.

Las Narices del Teide (the Noses of El Teide) are a remnant of the last eruption of the Pico Viejo volcano in 1798. The fissure eruption started with a 700 meter long crack 600 meters below the summit. In 3 months, 12 million cubic meters of lava flowed from various vents, forming a 5 square kilometer lava field, many meters thick.

The lava field that was formed after the 1798 eruption coloured black and differs in color from the rest of the lava field that was formed after previous eruptions of the Pico Viejo volcano.

The 3,718 meter high El Teide volcano in the National Park of the same name.

The 'Cueva del Viento' lava tunnels were formed 27,000 years ago during an eruption of the Pico Viejo volcano. The hot lava flows solidified on the outside by cooling and formed a crust on the surface. Inside, the liquid lava continued to flow. When the eruption stopped, the remaining lava flowed from beneath the crust. An underground labyrinth of empty tunnels was thus formed in the valley.

Like blood flowing through the veins of a body, boiling hot lava once raged through these tunnels. The lava flows etched deep marks into the tunnel walls and are the visible reminders of volcanic activity in the interior of the Earth.

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