THE OLDEST CANARY ISLAND
An article by Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura is 20 million years old so far, and is the most eroded of all the Canary archipelago. We are nearly flat compared to the other, newer, islands as we are millions of years older. So flat in fact, that the Romans who visited named the place Planaria meaning ‘flat land’. The very first part to rise above the sea, after a period of nearly 40 million years bubbling from below, was the Montana Tindaya. A majestic structure that is now only 401 metres high, but would have once reached 6-700 meters in height. The material of the mountain is different from the rest of the geology. It’s trachite and has large amounts of manganese dioxide within its rock that has come up from the deepest part of the sea bed. It must have been a very turbulent time, and the area is still active today. The Canary hot spot, was caused by plate movements between South America and Africa, and eventually formed the Canaries, the Azores, the Savage islands, Capo Verde and Madeira. It also continued well into the African mainland, creating the Atlas mountains.
Every island, except La Gomera, has experienced eruptions and volcanic activity in the last million years. Lanzarote, La Palma, El Hierro and Tenerife have erupted in the last 500 yrs! Lanzarote went off big time in 1730 and blew for nearly three years, but here in Fuerteventura, we had our last incident around 8-9,000 yrs ago and luckily nobody was around as it was an enormous upheaval that changed the northern coastline, from Las Lajares through to El Cotillo and Corralejo, into volcanic rock. It also left behind the island of los Lobos.
Inland the new area is known as the Malpais (bad land) of Bayuyo, as it is a desolate landscape, covered with small rocks and no good for growing crops. It is very difficult to walk across, unless you are a goat, but is home to an abundance of flora and fauna. There are also many deposits of quartz, the first emissions of a new eruption encased inside the lava, which are known as lava bombs.
OUT & ABOUT
A good example of the most recent volcanic formation is in the Las Lajares area. It is called Montana Colorado, well worth a visit and easy to walk to. This unique area must be preserved so remember to keep to the paths when exploring.
NEW ISLAND IN THE MAKING.
Right now, off the coast of El Hierro, an eruption is occurring and maybe in a thousand years we will have a new Canary island to visit. Hopefully you will see the Island a little differently now and marvel, as I do, at even after complete devastation has occurred, life still has a way of taking hold.
Want to see more of the island for yourself? Get out and about with a guided tour.