Going to the Canaries

It has been a while since I last saw something geologically interesting in the field. It is time to do something about it. So I will go to the Canary Islands at the end of the week. The Canaries are not only very interesting geological destination but they also offer much better climate than my home country does at the moment. So it really is time to escape for some time. My trip will last a little more than two weeks.

I have been in Tenerife before. It was few years ago. This time I will not go there. I will visit two other islands: La Palma and Gran Canaria (Las Palmas). They are both volcanic islands on the oceanic crust. Hence, they are hot spots like Hawaii and many other similar archipelagos. Gran Canaria is older and not as active anymore (although not extinct) but La Palma is probably located on top of the current position of the Canaries hot spot (with recently active El Hierro island). So I hope to see lots of relatively fresh volcanic structures and rocks there.

La Palma is visited by a small number of tourists when compared with Tenerife and Gran Canaria but it is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in geology or just mountain trekking. La Palma is known as Isla Bonita (beautiful island) and this time I have a firm plan to record as much of this beauty as possible onto my camera’s memory card. Regrettably I have only few pictures from Tenerife and their quality is not good. This time I have better equipment (new camera lens which I am eager to test) and probably I am also better prepared for it as a geologist. I really would like to share all of it with you. However, I am sure that I will have internet access only occasionally. It will be a low-budget trip with nights spent somewhere outside. But I will try to at least sometimes post a picture or two with brief explanations.

I do not want to reveal my future plans before they are certain but it seems to me that the next year or at least the first half of it may become quite volcanic for me. So the course of Sandatlas may also shift considerably towards topics related to volcanism.

Red circles are around La Palma (on the left) and Gran Canaria (in the middle). Tenerife is the big island between them. I hope to see its familiar snow-covered Teide volcano when flying from one island to another. Photo: NASA.

You are of course more than welcome to recommend specific places that are worth visiting on these islands.


3 comments to Going to the Canaries

  • Callan Bentley

    Awesome! Safe travels.

  • Ole Tjugen

    The Canary Islands have a curious two-stage activity cucle, with initial island-building volcanism followed by a long hiatus, and then in the end some strange fractioned volcanics. La Gomera, the little round island just west of Tenerife, is the only one of the islands with no historic volcanism: It’s right in the “long sleep” between the two phases. I was there a couple of years ago, and saw a lot of beautiful eroded lava flows with sediments between the flows.
    From a (former) magma petrologist’s point of view, the Canaries are a great place to go to. :)

  • Yes, it is a great place in my opinion too. The volcanism there is interestingly alkaline. Probably because of old and thick oceanic crust below them and also because the amount of partial melting is small. The hot spot below the Canaries is a lot weaker than the one below Hawaii. This is why volcanic eruptions are much less frequent and the islands do not form a single line. I plan to write about the geology of the Canaries but of course it looks much more interesting when I come back and have lots of images to illustrate it.

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