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The Volcanos on La Palmas

Volcanism - Caldera - Cumbre Vieja

The birth of La Palma started approximately two million years ago. That was a long ongoing thing, because the contractions went on for a hundred thousands of years.

La Palma is - like Hawaii - a hot spot island. Hot spots are particularly close and extremely hot places in the earth's interior, which release pressure by pumping rocks up to the surface. This so-called “mantle plume” melts in the earth's crust, penetrates as magma up to the surface, cools down in the Ocean and slowly piles up until it grows surely into a volcano.

In case of La Palma the first into the ocean born volcano got higher and higher and one day it was touching his nose out of the water. While the volcano continued growing above the surface, it could see how his many “brothers” were born. For the time while the hot spot continued to spit, the earth's crust over him shifted. One volcano grew beside to the next volcano until more than 100 peaks sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean - La Palma was born!

According to this principle all the Canary Islands has been born. Reason: All seven islands are at the border of the ocean floor in front of the African continental plate, which shifts towards the East each year with two to three centimeters. So their submarine crustal area goes constantly over the hot spot. The process began about 30 million years ago - La Palma with its age of 2 million years is the baby of the island siblings.

Geologists suspect that the hot spot is not only fed from the earth's interior. Reason: Between the borders of the 150 kilometer "thick" African continental plate and the just about 10 kilometers far away strong ocean plate is a temperature gradient. Means: Cool rocks from the continent fall down and rise hot up again on the hot spot. Geologists call it Edge Driven Convection.

Most of the volcanoes on La Palma have not spit fire for a long time. Seven outbreaks have been documented in the past 500 years, classified as "moderate" by experts. There have never been fatalities for the reason that the lava has flowed fortunately slowly.

The last eruption of the Teneguía in 1971 was almost a social event: The Palmeros where watching on the crater rim of the volcano while doing a picnic. The show was at least for three weeks and the in to the Ocean flowing lava redesigned again a new lunar landscape in the south of the Island. For the reason that Teneguía makes funny trouble until today, it is under constant scientific observation. His older brother San Antonio, located next to the Teneguía, was active the last time in 1677. On the edge of its crater was built a visitor center.

The horror story from Mega tsunami is not so hot

Last but not least to one of the worlds most famous horror stories where La Palma and the Teneguía play the leading role. More about this story, which isn’t as hot as some of the risk researcher say, in our La Palma24 Journal - click here.

Caldera de Taburiente

By the opinion of the geologists, the biggest of the three volcanoes were in the north of La Palma and it extinct since a long time. So long that air and water has formed from the once more than 3.500 meters above sea level towering lava the Caldera de Taburiente.

But the shrinkage is not little. The gigantic crater rim has a size of impressive nine kilometers in diameters and is considered to this the largest erosion crater in the world. His walls are impressive. The Roque de Los Muchachos forms with 2.426 meters the highest pillar of volcanic ruins, followed by the Pico de La Cruz with 2.351 meters and the Pico de La Nieve with 2.232 meters.

Bizarre Canyons, romantic springs and waterfalls, evergreen pine forests, rare plants and animals inside the "cooking pot" have made the National Park Caldera de Taburiente as a famous destination for hikers on La Palma.

Well the most famous trail of the caldera is the “Barranco de Las Angustias”. Long time ago the indigenous peoples of La Palma taught in the "Valley of mortal fears" the Spanish conquerors what fear was. Today hikers walk here safely from Dos Aguas down to Tazacorte - but only when it’s dry. When its heavy raining it can be that a raging river flows through the Barranco.

Cumbre Nueva and Cumbre Vieja

After the Caldera our hot-spot has created the ridge of the Cumbre Nueva first and then the Cumbre Vieja. Therefore is the "new peak” – so the translation – geologically older than the "old peak", because the volcanic chain of La Palma emerged from north to south.

With nearly 2.000 meters is this mountain an ideal hiking area. The Cumbres are the reason that it rains in La Palma. They form a natural weather divide, because the east to west passing trade wind clouds stuck and begin to trickle. That is the reason why, no matter wherever you look, it is green and blooming - mushroom pickers can find even in winter chanterelles and porcini mushrooms. It is no wonder that the Cumbres are identified as a nature park.

Especially popular for La Palma-travelers is the "Volcano Route". This hiking trail over the Cumbre Vieja gives hikers on a clear day an amazing view of the neighboring islands Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro.

We publish recent events around the volcanoes of the Isla Bonita in our La Palma24 Journal - click here