More than 150 earthquakes have been detected near the Teide volcano in Tenerife since the June 11, with 112 of those taking place in just 24 hours between between July 5 at 1am and July 6 at 4am, according to The National Geographic Institute. Residents and others living around the area have become concerned about the future of the volcano. Since June 11, an additional 40 earthquakes were detected.
The most recent earthquakes were detected between 40 and 50 kilometres underground. This latest update comes after the detection of magma reservoirs at a depth of less than 5km beneath the surface several months ago, where researchers from the Canary Islands, Russia and Grenada observed that basaltic magma has cooled underground.
This is causing a change in chemical composition resulting in a ‘potentially explosive’ type of magma, with researchers calling this new data ‘astonishing’.
Some 400 earthquakes were recorded in June last year, sparking a state of ‘permanent monitoring’ by Canary Islands-based research group INVOLCAN. Express.co.uk spoke to Coventry University professor Matthew Blackett, who explained the cause of these tremors.
He said: “It remains a very active volcano. This means that there is an active magma chamber below the island.”
He went on to say that the movement of the magma in these chambers is what causes the small seismic tremors that are occurring near the volcano.
He added: “Think about when you touch a pipe with water flowing through it. You can feel a vague vibration.” He explained that this is similar to the underground activity occurring at Teide.
Teide possesses similar characteristics to Vesuvius and Etna, which have both suffered devastating eruptions in the past. Teide has erupted 13 times in the past 2,000 years, most recently in 1909. Although it lasted for 10 days and spewed rock fragments 20 km and ash almost 130 km, there were no direct casualties.
Professor Matthew Blackett also explained what the damage could be if the volcano was to erupt today. Professor Blackett added: “If Teide were to erupt, it could have a significant effect.”
“One characteristic of Teide is that where the lava effuses from is not consistent, so it would be hard to know which areas would be affected.”
Matthew went on to say that ‘if the flows came from the north facing slopes, they could flow towards the coast and affect the numerous towns and resorts there’.
However, he said that there were ‘few’ indicators that an eruption would occur any time soon.
There are contrasting views on whether the heightened activity in the past few decades could result in an eruption, however findings published in the 2006 journal Eos, stated that ‘the recent eruptive record provides a rather optimistic outlook on major volcanic hazards related to Teide and its rift zones’.
The journal went on to say that the eruption of the volcano poses ‘only very localised threats to the one million inhabitants of Tenerife and the 4.5 million annual visitors to Teide National Park’.
Volcanologist and professor of earth sciences at the University of Oxford David Pyle spoke to the Daily Express, and similarly to Matthew, he said that there was nothing for people to worry about, saying that the threat level was ‘currently very small’.
He said: “This was a very small swarm of very small earthquakes, deep underground. It suggests that very small quantities of magma might be moving 40-50 km below Teide. This is not unexpected.”
He went on to say that ‘there is no indication that the volcano is about to erupt’.
Despite this, many residents of the surrounding area are understandably on edge about the potential threat that this volcano could pose to them.
Teide is not the only volcano to exhibit such warning signs. Recently, the Campi Flegrei volcano in southern Italy was observed to have become ‘more likely’ to erupt, according to research from the journal Communications Earth and Environment.
An eruption from Campi Flegrei could potentially plunge the planet into a global winter and threaten the 500,000 citizens living nearby, largely in the coastal town of Pozzuoli.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.