Earthquakes Near Tenerife and Gran Canaria Spark Fears of Volcanic Eruption

Concerns that the Canary Islands could get caught up in a volcanic eruption sparked by hundreds of small earthquakes have been played down by scientists.

In Hawaii, a bout of seismic activity led to an eruption from Kilauea volcano, which in turn destroyed houses, buildings and cars and is still causing havoc.

There were concerns that seismic activity caused by a submarine fault between the Spanish islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria off the coast of Africa could lead to a similar eruption on Mount Teide.

The country's National Geographic Institute said more than 270 quakes have struck near the islands since April 29, with one reaching 3.2 on the Richter scale about 22 miles from Puerto La Luz, Port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

RTR2NL1M The Teide volcano is seen from its south side at sunset on Tenerife, Spain's Canary Islands, on June 11, 2011. There are concerns that earthquakes may increase chances that the volcano might erupt. REUTERS/Santiago Ferrero

Mount Teide, at 12,000 feet high, is the world's third-tallest volcanic structure and the highest mountain in Spain. It is the eighth most-visited tourist site in the world, and around 3 million people visit its 260-foot crater annually. It last erupted in 1909.

However Emilio Carreño, director of Spain's National Seismic Network, said most of the earthquakes had been of tectonic origin, and these “are not usually associated with volcanology.”

“Right now in the peninsula there are quite a few places at which these series are being observed. It is common during any single month to register between 100 and 600 earthquakes in areas like in the Jódar area, or in Jaén, which can experience between 400 and 500 at the same time,” he told Euro Weekly News.

Professor Mike Burton, chair in volcanology at the University of Manchester told the Daily Mail that the seismic activity in the Canary Islands is due to how the tectonic plates move and does not have a direct impact on volcanic activity.  

“Before an eruption on Tenerife or any of the other Canary Islands, there would be clear precursory signals in seismicity, gas and ground deformation. These are not such signals."

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