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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Teneguía Eruption of 1971

Volcanic landscape of Teneguía

The La Palma volcano erupted on October 26, 50 years ago. It is now 50 years since the last time a terrestrial volcano erupted in Spain: Teneguía, in the south of the island of La Palma. On October 20, 1971, the earthquakes began, the intensity of which was gradually increasing, which alerted the residents of Fuencaliente, and the authorities deployed civil protection measures. The eruption began at 4:25 p.m. on October 26, 1971, and lasted until November 18. It was a relatively short eruption; In fact, it was the shortest of those that have taken place in the Canary Islands, especially when compared to the one that lasted six years in the 18th century in what is now the Timanfaya National Park, in Lanzarote.

The Teneguía volcano had been inactive since 1677, when it began to expel lava. The population watched with curiosity and fear; Long lines of vehicles are remembered near the volcano to watch the lava show, especially at night. 

The volcano caused material damage to the vineyards in the area and destroyed a beach, although it also created a new one. The final valuation of losses was six million pesetas, mainly in communication routes, crops and some houses, as reported at the time by La Vanguardia. There were also moments of anguish in the evacuation of 28 fishing boats from the Faro beach. A tourist died as a result of severe poisoning suffered by inhaling gases near the volcano, after breaking the security cordon established to protect the population.

The lava did not affect the populated areas and, as the volcano is to the south of the island, on the coast, the lava practically dumped straight into the sea, which increased the surface of the island by about two million square meters. This space of new land was declared a Natural Monument, and is one of the great attractions of the island: for many years, when walking through the recent lava, the earth was still warm.

The Cumbre Vieja de La Palma, where today a volcano is erupting, is one of the most active volcanic complexes in the Canary Islands. Two of the last three eruptions recorded on the islands have taken place here, that of the San Juan volcano (1949) and, in 1971, the TeneguíaIn October 2011, after several weeks of intense seismic activity under the Canary Island of El Hierro, an underwater volcanic eruption occurred off its coast. 

The Parada bar, in the municipality of Fuencaliente, was used as a centre for the media that covered the previous volcanic eruption that occurred on the island, that of Teneguía, in 1971. Located almost at the end of the town, the Bar Parada was also at that time the place where the scientists who came to study the eruption drank coffee, Honorio Pérez, who then worked in the establishment, now run by his son, told EFE. EFE / Elvira Urquijo