Thursday, June 23, 2022

Confirmed "for the first time" a landslide on the north face of Mount Teide, Tenerife

Mount Teide (Stock image)

Last Friday, a seismic swarm was detected in the vicinity of Mount Teide, whose origin, according to the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands, could be due to a movement of fluids such as steam, gas or water inside the volcano's hydrothermal system.

During the same day, the video of an alleged landslide on the north face of Teide began to circulate. This Tuesday, seismologist Itahisa Domínguez, from the National Geographic Institute (IGN), confirmed that the collapse "was seen from the IGN seismic station." In fact, they report that the phenomenon occurred at exactly 9:45 a.m. last Friday.

“Similar signs have been observed on other occasions that we thought were this type of landslide, but this is the first time it has been confirmed,” adds the expert. 

The author of the recording is unknown.


The seismic swarm recorded a few days ago has characteristics very similar to those recorded on October 2, 2016 and June 14, 2019.

As Involcan pointed out, this does not imply a greater probability of an eruption in the short or medium term, but "remember that Tenerife is still a volcanically active island."

Experts rule out that the collapse on Teide was caused by earthquakes

Both the IGN and Involcan remind us that landslides are normal on slopes as pronounced as the north; the meteorology, possible origin of the rockfall last Friday.

Sometimes, chance rolls its dice and, by definition, what comes out is unpredictable, but to distinguish reality and coincidence there is science. A good example of this is what happened about a video about a landslide on Mount Teide, specifically on the north face, which spread like wildfire through social networks, causing logical concern among many Tenerife residents, as it was dated last Friday, the day on which a formidable swarm of hybrid events (not classic earthquakes) was found about 13 kilometres deep under Pico Viejo.

But no. One fact (the landslide on Mount Teide) has nothing to do with the other (the earthquakes of recent days), as was made clear by both the National Geographic Institute (IGN) and the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (Involcan).

Moreover, it is not difficult to understand that, as they clarify, it is the most normal thing in the world for this type of landslide to occur on slopes as steep as those on the north slope of Teide. Most likely, weather (and corresponding erosion) is behind this fortuitous rock fall.


It was the scientific coordinator of Involcan, Nemesio Pérez, who first provided the keys to DIARIO DE AVISOS to understand that there is nothing to be alarmed about.

“This landslide on Teide has nothing to do with what happened due to those hybrid events [about 450] and it is the most normal thing that happens on a slope like that,” Pérez stressed, who even detailed that, in any case, “it is on the contrary: because we detect signs of hybrid events [caused by fluids] such as the one mentioned, earthquakes and also phenomena that have no relation to earthquakes, such as a major rockfall”.

In this regard, it must be taken into account that, adding all the power of what happened last Friday under the surface of Las Cañadas, it barely represents a magnitude 2 earthquake or, what amounts to the same thing, was not even felt by the population.

But chance brought with it the entanglement and, as IGN seismologist Itahiza Domínguez explained on Twitter, chance meant that this rockfall last Friday was the first that they have been able to date with complete certainty: “It is something to be expected in an area so steep and showing signs of similar recent events. In addition, we detected it in a couple of seismic stations”, confirmed this specialist.

For his part, the director of the Involcan Volcanic Surveillance Area, Luca D'auria, reiterated the denial: "This is a very common event on the north slope of Teide, especially during the summer. It is mainly related to meteorological factors.”

To make matters worse, it is not even known with certainty if the video in question is from last Friday.