The longest eruption on La Palma

On May 19, 1585, the land was opened in Cumbre Vieja and the magma that contained the insular building began to flow down the slope without haste. The Tehuya eruption is one of the most relevant in palm history, given that it gave rise to emblematic landscapes of La Palma, such as Los Campanarios de Jedey or the current configuration of the Puerto Naos coastline. However, the most relevant aspect of the Tehuya eruption was its duration, which until now made it the longest in the last 500 years on Isla Bonita: 84 days. 436 years and 4 months later, the earth has reopened, oozing so much lava that it has passed a hitherto unbreakable milestone.

The current eruption and the Tehuya are joined by certain similar characteristics and not only with respect to their duration. The volcano that arose at the top of El Paso in 1585 had three distinct phases similar to those that have been monitored in the current eruption. The first was characterized by significant deformations in the ground and by marked seismic movements; the second was marked by explosive behavior, which scientists believe was probably Strombolian; and the third was a stage characterized by a mixed activity both effusive and explosive, which gave rise to the formation of three lava flows that gained ground from the sea, buried crops and killed several fish in the sea.

Like the current one, the Tehuya eruption also combined phases of eruptive calm with stages of explosive reactivation. In fact, historians consider that this is one of the most powerful eruptions on La Palma, not only because of its duration, but also because in its final phases it had so much energy that it managed to remove large blocks from the depths of the earth. Phonolithic that today is known as the bell towers of Jedey or the needles of Tehuya. According to the description of the engineer Leonardo Torriani, "there were two very large stones, in the middle of the mountain, thin at the top, like pyramids." These pythons suffered an important collapse during the eruption of the San Juan volcano (1949) and in their surroundings it is possible to appreciate how they have been colonized by Canarian pines, some of them positioned in the most unlikely accesses.

The Tehuya volcano also generated intense seismic activity, of such caliber that it was felt throughout the Archipelago. The current one is not far behind, as it has stirred the bowels of the Islands, generating movements in El Hierro, Tenerife and La Gomera. However, in its pre-eruptive phase, the seismicity was much more intense. Torriani narrates that during the previous spring there were "great and continuous earthquakes", which preceded the moment in which the volcano found "a point where it could make more effort and push out". In fact, Torriani claims that the moans of the volcano could be heard from the surface, stating that "you could hear the sound of fire under the ground and the crash of stones." However, and unlike this widely watched eruption; that of Tehuya was largely unknown until practically the 1960s. For a long time it was believed that the first historical volcano on La Palma had been the Tacande volcano and the date of the eruption had been set in 1585, confusing it with the of Tehuya. It was not until 1949, when the Tenerife teacher María Rosa Alonso, after carrying out a study on Guillén Peraza, said that they belonged to the 15th century and that the volcano to which the historian Abreu Galindo referred could not be from the 16th century, but earlier , with which there would have been another volcanic eruption that had not been duly dated. For more than thirty years, the dilemma has been clarified and it has been possible to study in greater depth the longest eruption in palm history so far.


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