Geography of the Canary Islands
Tenerife is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, a few degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer and a little over 100km from the African coast.
The Canarian archipelago – of which Tenerife is the largest island – is the one the world’s major oceanic volcanic groups.
Along with the neighbouring island complexes of Madeira and Cape Verde – the Canaries occupy a singular geodynamic position – distant from any plate margin but in a zone of transition from oceanic to continental crust.
University Study of the Archipelago
According to the University of Hull’s website “it has been suggested that volcanism in the Canary Islands is related to their position in a transit zone from thick continental to thin oceanic lithosphere and the effects of Alpine orogeny.
This theory relates to the volcanic evolution of the Canaries to regional scale faults developed during the uplift of the nearby Atlas Mountains in the Miocene.
These large fractures were thought to be periodically active during successive cycles of compression and distension(extension) during the orogeny – with volcanic episodes related to the periods of distention which facilitated the out-pouring of magma and the formation of basaltic shield volcanoes (Anguita, 1977).
This theory appears to be corroborated by the position of the main volcanic hazards at in the Archipelago which are related to active, SW-NE trending structural rift-type zones (SRTZs) – locally called “dorsales” (“ridges”).
Arana and Carracedo (ibid.) also identify regional faults as the cause of strong recent earthquake activity in the region
(e.g., 1989 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife)”.
Landscape of the Canaries
Academic hypothesising aside – the landscape of the Canaries is fascinating for geologists and lay persons alike.
The amazing rock and lava formations have created a lunar-like landscape that transports the visitor to an almost surreal world of deep valleys, craggy peaks and unfathomable crevices.
The volcanic nature of Tenerife’s makeup means the beaches and coves of the stunning coastline are covered with fine black sand that further enhances the other-worldly feel of the island.
Come to Tenerife and experience this incredible landscape for yourself. Check out our Tenerife Holiday Offers page for the best deals on the web.
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