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Volcanoes on Tenerife, Canary Islands

Houses and streets made of volcanic material in the Canary Islands
Houses and streets made of volcanic material in the Canary Islands
Richard Basch

All the Canaries are volcanic islands. This comes from a period 20 million years ago when there was a lot of volcanic activity in the sea. The soil that is in the Canary Islands is entirely volcanic. It is a rich soil and produces some unusual products. Like about 22 different versions of potatoes which are unique to Tenerife. The way of cooking these potatoes exists all over the Canaries but the potatoes only grow on Tenerife.

Volcanic soil is every where in the islands. The houses are often built of volcanic rocks. The beaches are often black from volcanic sand. The main beaches in the Island of Tenerife are basaltic volcanic formations, mainly rich in iron and magnesium which are the main chemical compositions of the sand.

In the south the beaches are often rich in silica which is another chemical composition and it creates sand of different, lighter color: gold and white. For example a mineral of this composition is pumice which is rich in silica.

The old Canary houses are often built of volcanic basalt stone and natural pine wood. The rocks to build the walls and the pine wood to build the doors, the ceilings, the furniture and the floors all of Canarian pine wood.

This practice is no longer the unique way of making houses. Today the houses are built of a mixture of volcanic ash and cement together. The trees are protected, so the furniture is all imported.

The volcano on Tenerife, the main island, is still active. It is called a sleeping volcano. “He may wake up one of these days and produce an eruption It may be in a hundred years or two hundred years but he may wake up,” said one resident of Tenerife. The center of the island of Tenerife is a volcano called National Park Canadas del Teide.

However this may be, around a million residents live there quite happily and seem to be oblivious to the danger. People don’t think about volcanic eruptions here. They are used to living with volcanoes, similar to the way people live in relation to volcanoes in Hawaii.

The national park is the second most visited national park in the world and the most visited in Europe. There are more than 2 and a half million visitors per year.

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