Happy Birthday, Teneguia!

The eruption of Teneguía, Fuencaliente, 1971
October 8, 2016

  The oldest rocks on La Palma are 3,000,000 years old, which is very young for geology. But the youngest rocks are just 45 years old, and it’s their birthday this month. The Teneguía volcano erupted during October and November of 1971. My husband was a teenager at the time, and he remembers going to see it from the San Antonio volcano, and he remembers hearing the deep rumbles at…

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Pillow lava

Pillow lava in the Caldera de Taburiente
March 30, 2016

Pillow lava is formed underwater, on the sea-bed. When the lava comes out and hits the sea water, the outside cools and freezes pretty much immediately, while the inside keeps on flowing. That means that it forms tube, which lengthens and widens until the pressure at the inlet end breaks open the tube and starts a new one. So you get the tubes interlocking. This is how La Palma grew…

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Volcanic Caves

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July 26, 2015

I come from Yorkshire and I’m used to limestone caves, so I was surprised when I found that the volcanic island of La Palma has lots of caves too. Volcanic caves are formed when a river of lava solidifies on the top and sides, but the middle (insulated by the solid-but-still-hot lava around it) stays runny. Sometimes big bubbles of gas force their way to the surface, leaving a hole…

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San Antonio Volcano

May 26, 2015

  The most recent eruption in the Canary Islands was Teneguía, in 1971 (see Thursday, 21 February 2008 Which Planet Are You On?). It’s a nice place to visit, but you have to be fairly fit. St. Antony’s Volcano (Volcan San Antonio) is nice in a completely different way. For one thing, it looks like a volcano should look, and you can walk halfway around the spectacular circular crater. You…

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Pyroclastic Flows and Dykes

The whole island of La Palma is volcanic, but it’s extremely young. The oldest rocks are only about three million years old, so there’s no dinosaur fossils here. Much of the island is basalt – a dark grey rock which tends to form hexagonal columns, like the Giant’s Causeway or Los Organos on La Gomera. Over thousands of years it weathers to a lighter grey or brownish-grey. The red rocks…

April 11, 2014
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Robert’s Wall (la pared de Roberto)

Robert's Wall (Pared de Roberto), La Palma
May 10, 2011

  This photo was taken from the viewpoint at Los Andennes, where you get a spectacular view into the Caldera. From here you can see a dyke called La Pared de Roberto (Robert’s Wall). It’s about four metres high (13ft). [Volcanic dykes are formed when moulten lava fills a crack in the rock and solidifies slowly into very hard rock called basalt. Later on the softer, surrounding rock is eroded…

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