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Mount Teide or, in Spanish, Pico del Teide [ ] is the highest elevation of Spainmarker and the islands of the Atlantic (it is the third largest volcano in the world from its base). It is an active volcano which last erupted in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent on the Santiago (northwestern) rift and is located on Tenerifemarker, Canary Islandsmarker. The volcano and its surroundings comprise the Teide National Park (Parque Nacional del Teide in Spanish). The park has an area of 18900 hectares and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCOmarker on June 29, 2007. It is also from the end of 2007 one of the Twelve Treasures of Spainmarker. Territorially belongs to the municipality of La Orotava.El Teide was a mythological mountain with Aboriginal reministencias Guanches, like Mount Olympusmarker to the ancient greek. El Teide, the island of Tenerife was in 2008 the most visited National Park of four at their disposal the Canary Islands with a total of 2.8 million visitors, according to the Instituto Canario de Estadística (ISTAC).Teide is one of the most famous natural icons not only in Tenerife but throughout the Canary Islands.

At 3718 m above sea level, and approximately 7500 m above the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, Teide is the highest mountain in Spainmarker, highest point in the Atlantic Oceanmarker and the 13th highest mountain in the European Union (highest mountain not in the Alps). (Note: The actual summit stands higher than the triangulation station, and associated bench mark, which has an altitude of ). The island of Tenerife itself is the third largest volcanic ocean island on Earth by volume. Teide is also the third highest volcano on a volcanic ocean island. It is also unstable and possibly in a more advanced stage of deformation and failure than the much publicised Cumbre Viejamarker. The United Nations Committee for Disaster Mitigation designated Teide as a Decade Volcano, because of its history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to several large towns, of which the closest are Garachico, Icod de los Vinos and Puerto de la Cruzmarker.

Teide together with its neighbour Pico Viejo and Montaña Blanca form the Central Volcanic Complex.


According to legend, Guayota (devil) abducted Magec (god of light and the sun), and took him inside the Teide. The Guanches Achamán asked for clemency to their supreme god. Achamán hit Guayota, Magec was lifted from the bowels of Echeyde and plugged the crater with Guayota in it.

Since then Guayota remains locked inside the Teide. When entering the Teide erupting, it was customary that the Guanches lit bonfires to scare a Guayota.

A Guayota is often represented as a black dog, accompanied by his host of demons Tibicenas.


El Pico del Teide (The Peak of Teide) is the modern Spanish name attributed to the volcano. The Lunar mountain, Mons Picomarker, part of the Montes Teneriffe mountain range, situated in the inner ring of the lunar mare Imbriummarker, was named after this 18th Century version by Johann Schröter. Prior to the 1495 Spanish colonization of Tenerife, the native Guanches referred to the volcano as Echeyde. Echeyde, in the Guanches legends, meant some sort of powerful figure leaving the volcano that could turn into hell. The Guanches believed that Echeyde held up the sky. The many "hiding" found in the mountains with archaeological remains of stone tools and pottery have been interpreted as deposits rituals to counter the influence of evil spirits (evil genius), a practice also included in the Kabyliamarker Amazighe. The Guanches conceived the mountain as the place that housed the forces of evil, mostly evil figure Guayota.


Satellite image of Tenerife with different volcanic massifs labeled.

The stratovolcanoes Teide and Pico Viejo are the most recent centres of activity on the volcanic island of Tenerifemarker. Tenerife is the largest (2058 km2) and highest (3718 m) island in the Canariesmarker and has a complex volcanic history. The formation of the island and development of the current Teide volcano can be summarised into five stages, as shown in the diagram to the right.

Stage One

Similar to the other Canary Islandsmarker, and Volcanic Ocean Islands in general, the island of Tenerife was built by accretion of three large shield volcanoes, which developed in a relatively short period of time. This early shield stage volcanism formed the bulk of the emerged part of Tenerife. The shield volcanoes date back to the Miocene and early Pliocene and are preserved in three isolated and deeply eroded massifs: Anaga (to the NE), Teno (to the NW) and Roque del Conde (to the south).. Each individual shield was apparently constructed in less than three million years and the entire island in about eight million years.

Stages Two and Three

The initial juvenile stage was followed by a period of 2-3 million years of eruptive quiescence and erosion. This cessation of activity is typical of the Canaries, for example La Gomeramarker is currently in this erosional stage. After this period of quiescence the volcanic activity became concentrated within two large edifices; the central volcano of Las Cañadas and the Anaga massif. The Las Cañadas volcano developed over the Miocene shield volcanoes and may have reached 40 km in diameter and a height of 4500 m.

Stage Four

Summary diagram for formation of Tenerife through to current Teide volcano.

Around 160-220 thousand years ago the summit of the Las Cañadas I volcano collapsed creating the Las Cañadas (Ucanca) caldera. Later a fresh stratovolcano - Las Cañadas II volcano reformed and underwent catastrophic collapse. Detailed mapping indicates that the site of this volcano was in the vicinity of Guajara. The Las Cañadas III volcano formed in the Diego Hernandez sector of the caldera. Detailed mapping indicates that all the Las Cañadas volcanoes attained a maximum altitude similar to that of Teide - which is also referred to as the Las Cañadas IV volcano

Two theories on the formation of the 16 x 9 km caldera exist.

The first is that the depression is the result of a vertical collapse of the volcano. The collapse being triggered by the emptying of shallow (at or about sea level) magma chambers under the Las Cañadas volcano after large-volume explosive eruptions.

The second theory is that the caldera was formed by a series of lateral gravitational collapses, similar to those described in Hawaiimarker. Evidence for the later theory has been found in both onshore observations and marine geology studies

Stage Five

The most recent activity on the island is the NW and NE rifts and the Pico Teide/Viejo stratovolcanoes, erupted material from which partially fill the Las Cañadas caldera. The rifts can be seen as prominent ridges running NE and NW through the island from the Las Cañadas caldera. The rifts are also believed to have built the previous Las Cañadas volcano, and had a part in its collapse. Since the collapse, eruptives from the rifts have filled the resulting embayment with increasingly differentiated lavas and finally developed the Teide and Pico Viejo stratovolcanoes, nested in the embayment itself .

Historical eruptions

Teide is currently dormant, the last eruption occurred in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent. Historical volcanic activity on the island is associated with vents on the Santiago or NW rift (Boca Gangrejo 1492, Montañas Negras 1706, Narices del Teide or Chahorra 1798 and El Chiyero 1909) and the Cordillera Dorsal or NE rift (Siete Fuentes and Fasnia in 1704 and 1705). The 1706 eruption from the Montañas Negras vent on the Santiago vent destroyed the town and principal port of Garachico, plus several smaller villages.

Historical activity associated with the Montaña Teide - Pico Viejo stratovolcanoes occurred in 1798 from the Narices del Teide on the western flank of Pico Viejo. Eruptive material from Pico Viejo-Montaña Teide-Montaña Blanca which partially fills the Las Cañadas caldera. The last explosive eruption involving the central volcanic centre was from Montaña Blanca ~2000 BP. The last eruption within the Las Cañadas caldera occurred in 1798 from the Narices del Teide or Chahorra (Teides Nostrils) on the western flank of Pico Viejo (Old Peak - which is actually younger than Teide). The eruption was predominantly strombolian in style and mostly a'a lava was erupted. These lavas are visible alongside the Vilaflor - Chio road.

The explorer Christopher Columbus reported seeing "... A great fire in the Orotava Valley...," as he sailed past the Tenerife on his voyage to discover the New World in 1492. This was interpreted as indicating that he had witnessed an eruption in the Orotava Valley.

Unfortunately radiometric dating of possible lavas disproved the eruption theory. However, radiometric dating indicates that an eruption did occur in 1492 from the Boca Gangrejo vent.

About 150,000 years ago, a much larger explosive eruption occurred, probably of Volcanic Explosivity Index 5. This eruption created the Las Cañadas caldera, a large caldera, at about 2,000 m above sea level. The caldera is ~16 km across east-west and ~9 km north-south. At Guajara, on the south side of the structure, the internal walls rise as almost sheer cliffs from 2,100 m to 2,715 m. The 3,718 m summit of Teide itself, and its sister stratovolcano, Pico Viejo 3,134 m, are both situated in the northern half of the caldera, and are derived from eruptions subsequent to this prehistoric explosion.

Further eruptions are possible at some future unascertainable date, including a risk of pyroclastic flows and surges similar to those that occurred at Mount Peléemarker, Merapimarker, Mount Vesuviusmarker, Soufrière Hillsmarker, Mount Unzenmarker, etc. During 2003, there was an increase in seismic activity at the volcano. Many volcanoes e.g. Mount St Helensmarker, Soufrière Hillsmarker had similar seismic activity prior to becoming active. Such activity is considered as being indicative of magma rising into the edifice.

Teide is considered to be unstable and has a distinctive bulge on its northern flank. This bulge is not believed to be associated with an influx of magma, but the result of a slow northwards collapse of the edifice. Seismic evidence suggests that Teide may be constructed over the headwall scarp of the infilled Icod Valley, a massive landslide valley formed by edifice failure in a similar manner to that of the Güímar and Orotava Valleys. The summit of the volcano has a number of small active fumaroles emitting sulfur dioxide and other gases including low levels of hydrogen sulfide.

Flora and fauna

Southern Tenerife Lizard (Gallotia galloti galloti).

The lava flows on the flanks of Teide weather to a very thin, but nutrient and mineral rich soil that supports a diverse amount of plant species. Vascular flora consists of 168 plant species, 33 of which are endemic to Tenerife.

Forests of Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis) occur from 1000-2100 m, covering the middle slopes of the volcano, and having an alpine timberline 1000 m lower than that of continental mountains of similar latitude. At higher altitudes, the Las Canadas caldera provides sufficient shelter for more fragile species such as the Canary Island cedar (Juniperus cedrus), and the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) to grow.

The most dominant plant species in the Teide National Park are the Teide white broom (Spartocytisus supranubius), which has a white and pink flower; the Canary Island wallflower (Erysimum scoparium), which has white and violet flowers; and the Teide bugloss (Echium wildpretii), whose red flowers form a pyramid up to 3m in height. The Teide Daisy (Argyranthemum teneriffae) can be found at altitudes close to 3,600m above sea level. The Teide Violet (Viola cheiranthifolia) can be found right up to the summit of the volcano, making it the highest flowering plant in Spain.

These plants are adapted to the tough environmental conditions on the volcano such as high altitude, intense sunlight, extreme temperature variations, and lack of moisture. Adaptations include acquiring semi-spherical forms, acquiring a downy or waxy cover, reducing the exposed leaf area, and having a high flower production. Flowering takes place in the late spring or early summer, in the months of May and June.

The Teide National Park contains a huge range of invertebrate fauna, over 40% of which are endemic species, with 70 species only being found in the National Park. The invertebrate fauna include spiders, beetles, dipterans, hemipterans, and hymenopterae.

In contrast, Teide national park has only a limited variety of vertebrate fauna. Ten species of bird nest in the park. These include the blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea teydea); Berthelot’s pipit (Anthus berthelotii berthelotii); the wild canary (Serinus canaria); and a species of kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis).

Three endemic reptile species are also found in the park – the Canary Island Lizard (Gallotia galloti galloti), the Canary Island wall gecko (Tarentola delalandii), and the Canary Island skink (Chalcides viridanus viridanus).The only mammals native to the park are bats, the most common species of which is Leisler’s bat (Nycatalus leisleri). Other mammals such as the mouflon, the rabbit, the house mouse, the black rat, the feral cat, and the Algerian Hedgehog have all been introduced to the park.


The volcano and its surroundings, including the whole of the Las Cañadas caldera, are protected in a national park, the Parque Nacional del Teide. Access is by a public road running across the caldera from northeast to southwest. The public bus service TITSA runs a once per day return service to Teide from both Puerto de la Cruzmarker and Playa de las Americasmarker. A parador (hotel) is also within the National Park along with a small chapel. The Teleférico cable car goes from the roadside at 2,356 m most of the way to the summit, reaching 3,555 m. Each car carries 38 passengers (34 in high wind) and takes 8 minutes to reach the summit. In peak season, queues can exceed two hours. Access to the summit itself is restricted; a free permit (obtainable from the Park office in Santa Cruzmarker, Calle Emilio Calzadilla, 5 - 4th floor) is required to climb the last 200 m. Numbers are normally restricted to 150 per day.

Due to the altitude, oxygen levels are lower than at sea level. This can cause people with heart or pulmonary conditions to become light headed, dizzy, develop mountain sickness and in extreme cases unconsciousness. The only treatment is to return to lower altitudes and acclimatise.

Cultural References

  • Mike Oldfield wrote and recorded a piece of music named after the mountain, called "Mount Teide," which appears on his studio album Five Miles Out.

  • Brian May wrote the Queen song "Tie Your Mother Down" at the Observatorio del Teide at Izana (altitude of 7,770 feet), in the autumn of 1971, while working on his grad thesis.

This dramatic scenery has featured in films such as One Million Years B.C. (1966), Clash of the Titans (2010).. The Raquel Welch poster of One Million Years B.C. that plays a significant role in the 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption" was taken at the Teide. Tourist agencies in Tenerife occasionally claim that Mount Teide was used as a location for the first Planet of the Apes (1968) film, Star Wars (1977) and Cecil B DeMille's second version of The Ten Commandments (1956) but all these claims are incorrect..

Image:Teleférico Teide.JPG|Cable Car on TeideImage:Tenerife (82).jpg|The snow-capped summit of Teide in December 2004Image:Teide from north 2006.jpg|Snow-capped Teide from the north, March 2006Image:Teide2.jpg|Teide from the airImage:Teide church.JPG|The small church at the foot of the MountainImage:Linbana teide.jpg|The Cable Car on TeideImage:Teide Tenerife3.jpg|Pico de Teide from Cañada de los Guancheros at 2050 m at the northeast edge of the caldera.Image:Teide Volcano, Canary Islands, Spain.jpg|Astronaut photograph of Teide.


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