Geologists have discovered a large submarine fault between Gran Canaria and Tenerife with magnetic anomalies. The elongated and narrow trench extends from East-Northeast to West-Southwest, reaches depths between 6,000 and 13,000 below the seabed and has a volume of 2,100 to 10,000 cubic kilometers. Although this fault between Tenerife and Gran Canaria has not been active in recent times, their magnetic model indicates that it conditioned the rise of magma in the central part of the archipelago during the first growth stages. And what if it started spewing magma again?

underwater fault gran canaria tenerife canary island, A large underwater fault was discovered between Gran Canaria and Tenerife in the Canary Islands Archipelago
A large underwater fault was discovered between Gran Canaria and Tenerife in the Canary Islands Archipelago.

The scientists consider that this type of geometry points to magmas that emerged in the growth phase of Gran Canaria under the influence of a large fault, and at a time in the past of the Earth in which the magnetic poles were inverted with respect to the present.

underwater fault gran canaria tenerife canary island, A large underwater fault was discovered between Gran Canaria and Tenerife in the Canary Islands Archipelago
a magnetic anomaly measured over the NW submarine edifice of the volcanic island of Gran Canaria revealed a large, reversely-magnetized, elongated structure following an ENE-WSW direction, which we interpreted as a sill-like magmatic intrusion emplaced during the submarine growth of this volcanic island, with a volume that could represent up to about 20% of the whole island.

This is not the first time scientists suggested the existence of an underwater fault between Gran Canaria and Tenerife. But now it has been verified, showing the importance of tectonic during the rapid evolution – on a geological scale – of the islands.

underwater fault gran canaria tenerife canary island, A large underwater fault was discovered between Gran Canaria and Tenerife in the Canary Islands Archipelago
The genesis of the Canary Islands was conditioned by a strike-slip tectonic framework probably related to Atlas tectonic features in Africa. These results do not contradict the hotspot theory for the origin of the Canary magmatism, but introduce the essential role of regional crustal tectonics to explain where and how those magmas both reached the surface and built the volcanic edifices.

The underwater fault is currently inactive… But what if it started ‘living’ again? Yes, the Teide is near!

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Nature.com and translation of El Diario

1 COMMENT

  1. If the volcano “El Teide” ever explodes; the island of Tenerife will sink into the Atlantic Ocean.
    Hopefully this never happens.

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