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Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources TENERIFE: Formation, stratigraphy and water resources Written by
Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources TENERIFE: Formation, stratigraphy and water resources Written by

TENERIFE:

Formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Written by Malcolm Sutherland

Student matriculation no. 9805423

All photographs and illustrations produced by the author, except where referenced

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

LAYOUT OF THE REPORT

1: FORMATION OF TENERIFE

1.1: Geological History of Tenerife

1.2: Formation of the Las Canadas caldera

2: GEOLOGY OBSERVED IN THE FIELD

2.1: Volcanic Deposits

2.2: Sedimentary deposits and soil development

3: WATER RESOURCES

3.1: Evolution of water resources on Tenerife

3.2: Applications and limitations

REFERENCES

APPENDICES

Plate A: Sections 1 to 3 Plate B: Section 4 Plate C: Sections 5 to 8 Plate D: field mapping (El Medano)

APPENDICES Plate A: Sections 1 to 3 Plate B: Section 4 Plate C: Sections 5 to

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources 1: FORMATION OF TENERIFE 1.1: Geological History of Tenerife The

1: FORMATION OF TENERIFE

1.1: Geological History of Tenerife

The origins of magmatic activity at Tenerife date as far back over 20 Ma in the Oligocene.

Akin to Hawaii, Iceland and the Azores, the Canarian archipelago represents an oceanic hotspot, a magmatic focal point where a mantle plume injects magma through the crust to

produce a prolific series of volcanoes. The movement of the oceanic plate eastwards results

in youngingof volcanic islands, from Lanzerote (20Ma) to Hierro (0.5 Ma).

Tenerife itself originally consisted of 3 focal points of activity situated around the comers of its triangular geometric outline (Figure 1). The oldest outcrops seen on the island dateback

lo

the late Oligocene (7-8 Ma), although this was 8 million years after submarine volcanism

in

the area was initiated. Alkali basalts dominate in the Old Basaltic Series - these are found

at the Roque del Corde, Anaga and Teno peninsulas, which are linked to the central cone by

crustal fractures, along which several cones are approximately aligned. Volcanism became more centred, until the 3 islands were linked by a central cone.

A quiescent period elapsed around 4.5 Ma, during which extensive weathering and erosion

occurred. Activity re-commenced around 3.3 Ma, producing a new central cone (Las Canadas) interconnecting all three islands, and composed of basaltic, pyroclastic and phonolitic deposits in more violent eruptions (Lower Group). This has geographically been the main focus of eruptions since then, involving cycles of cone accumulation, followed by structural instability and caldera collapse. Hundreds of minor eruptions have occurred throughout Tenerife also, manufacturing smaller volcanoes along the coast and around the slopes of the Las Canadas caldera.

the coast and around the slopes of the Las Canadas caldera. Figure 1: the three principal

Figure 1: the three principal stratigraphic groups on Tenerife

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

1.2: Formation of the Las Canadas Caldera

water resources 1.2: Formation of the Las Canadas Caldera Mt. Teide and Pico Viejo do not

Mt. Teide and Pico Viejo do not represent one single volcanic peak which is geographically and geologically central to Tenerife- Were this the case, they would rise to a greater altitude, possibly 5000m- Until around 780,000 years back, a great volcano of this structure did exist. The area covered by the recent Teide-Viejo vents is dwarfed by what was the area covered by one volcano at around 2000m, clearly represented by the Las Canadas amphitheatre (Figure). 3 caldera collapse events occurred - 1.07 Ma, 650,000 and 170,000 years ago.

The Caldera itself is not visible from further downhill; however, the inner wall of the amphitheatre structure rises abruptly above the caldera floor by up to several hundred metres. Originally this was deeper, as basaltic and acidic deposits erupted by Teide, Pico Viejo and Chahoma have obscured the collapsed framework underneath.

The enormity of what was the Las Canadas Edifice - and the vertical scale of the amphitheatre (Figure 2) - attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. In recent decades, the area was designated a Spanish national park, whereby all faunal and floral species, and the geology itself, is given the highest protection. Visitors today are under strict regulations not to disturb anything within the area; rock-sampling is an infringement for which the park rangers can impose penalties or take further action. Road inspections by the rangers are a daily routine.

action. Road inspections by the rangers are a daily routine. Figure 2: view of the southern

Figure 2: view of the southern section of the Las Canadas amphitheatre

The caldera flanks has also led to debate among geologists as to how such a great descent in height could have occurred along a single main fault. Although in the geological record, the caldera collapse events are aligned with unconformities (hence a significant time-gap is missing from the stratigraphy), an average tectonic fault allows for movement of adjacent masses between 5 and 10 m. If a series of vertical faults caused the slippage, the caldera wall would have been eroded following each earthquake to leave possibly no structure. The evidence (for 600m of almost instantaneous faulting) points to an anomalous tectonic event, in which the older basalt volcano structure was no longer supported by upcoming magma, and collapsed under its weight. Possibly 1000m of recent flow basalts cover this.

Landslides extending for tens of square kilometres (Figure 3) resulted from these events,

Landslides have also occurred alone -

with ignimbritic release following destabilization.

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources Malpas de Guimar, and Valie de la Orotava form broad

Malpas de Guimar, and Valie de la Orotava form broad sloping valley structures where there is an absence of narrow ridges leading up to the central flank.

structures where there is an absence of narrow ridges leading up to the central flank. Figure

Figure 3: formation of the caldera

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources 2: GEOLOGY OBSERVED IN THE FIELD 2.1: Volcanic Deposits LAVA

2: GEOLOGY OBSERVED IN THE FIELD

2.1: Volcanic Deposits

LAVA TUBES (Figure 4)

Defining the precise age of activity, and locating where the flow started and finished, is a difficult task, requiring observation of petrographic and chemical properties, as opposed to measuring indicators such as radionuclides. The lava tube shown above is one of the Las Canadas infrastructure of breccia-lava flows: encompassed by ignimbritic rock, this was a channel for emerging lava, the remains of which arc eroded boulders or stalagtite-like needles hanging from the roof of the exposed tunnel.

needles hanging from the roof of the exposed tunnel. Figure 4: one of the lava tubes

Figure 4: one of the lava tubes a few miles south of Mt Teide

VOLCANIC ACTIVITY WITHIN RECORDED HISTORY (photo ofChineiyu)

The last eruption to occur on Tenerife was at a secondary vent on the south flank of Chineryo, 400m below the summit. The 1909 eruption and others in the last few millennia have been relatively minor compared with the more widespread and occasionally explosive cycles recorded at El Medano and Bandas del Sur. These nevertheless have been frequent (around 200 years), indicating that further activity may occur, perhaps within the next 2 centuries. The magma chamber beneath Chineryo is between 1 to 2 km underground (Figure 5).

beneath Chineryo is between 1 to 2 km underground ( Figure 5 ). Figure 5: the

Figure 5: the magma chamber beneath the Chinyero peak

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources The fresh basaltic ash is pitch black, vitreous, and forms

The fresh basaltic ash is pitch black, vitreous, and forms discrete homogenous layers of sub- rounded 1-6mm pellets. These properties of the 1909 eruption deposits have not been disturbed by weathering and vegetation, although coniferous trees have been planted for conservation and to promote soil development. In contrast, the ash extruded in 1799 (Figure 6) appears brown due to mobilization of Fe 3+ by colonising vegetation including while broom bushes. Previous ash layers (photo) buried beneath additional deposits may remain melanocratic, although white precipitates formed by hydrothermal fluids can be present.

precipitates formed by hydrothermal fluids can be present. Figure 6: Chinyero (with the black 1909 vent

Figure 6: Chinyero (with the black 1909 vent further downhill)

Other historic deposits found within the caldera include basaltic flow deposits, characterised by "Po-hoe-hoe" and the physically treacherous "Aa-aa" features (Figure 7, left), both reflecting different properties of viscosity and water content. The ropy po-hoe-hoe lava appears more planar, due to its mobility before solidifying (Figure 7, right). The lineation fabric seen in the photo was created by the stretching of emerging gas cavities, and indicates the direction of flow. The "Aa-aa" rapidly crystalised and fractured to its abrasive texture as heat was lost rapidly.

fractured to its abrasive texture as heat was lost rapidly. Figure 7 : Aa-aa and Po-hoe-hoe

Figure 7: Aa-aa and Po-hoe-hoe lava deposits downstream from Chinyero

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources The front of lava deposits consist of a steep embankment

The front of lava deposits consist of a steep embankment lined with breccia, caused by the movement of still-molten rock over solid layers underneath, and the deposition of material there-from. The Montana BIanca eruption occurred 2000 years ago, although it is presumed that Tenerife was uninhabited by the Guanches at that time, and so was not witnessed.

ERODED DYKE PILLARS

Viewed in the picture on the title page, groups of these formed an infrastructure of lava channels for volcanic cones. The cone was eroded away, and faster erosion of the lava deposits around the pillars leaves these structures protruding above the surface.

OBSIDIAN FLOW DEPOSITS

Obsidian, as a rapidly chilled volcanic glass with no crystalline features, can only be produced in a sub-aqueous environment. This is found on the lower slopes of Mt. Teide, suggesting that the caldera comprised a euphmeral lake, possibly during one of the last glaciation periods when the climate was less arid. The assortment of gray, violet, yellow and turquoise streaks seen on the rock represent hydrothermal alteration both during and after deposition.

MONTANA BLANCA

(Figure 8)

This features a small sandy desert composed of pumice ash-fall deposits, left by a sub- Plinian eruption at Minas de San Jose, a volcano along the amphitheatre. The pumice sand is poorly sorted, consisting of pale yellow, angular, very fine to pebble-sized grains (up to 5cm). It is also intimately mixed in with some basaltic ash granules of similar size. In some areas this has weathered to form pale green or red sand. Underneath the loosely unconsolidated dune surface are moist, compacted layers of this weathered pumice.

are moist, compacted layers of this weathered pumice. Figure 8: Montana Blanca The pumice ash was

Figure 8: Montana Blanca

The pumice ash was violently projected by the volcano and scattered between 1 and 2km west, due to the viscosity and high gas content of the magma. Agglutinates (basaltic boulders seen around the summit) were later ejected as the magma was depleted of gas. The lava flow occurred last when the gas was almost removed.

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

VENT DEPOSITS (Figure 9)

stratigraphy and water resources VENT DEPOSITS ( Figure 9 ) Volcano vents are scattered across Tenerife,

Volcano vents are scattered across Tenerife, several of which protrude at the coastline. One of these is found west of El Medano, which may have been produced after beach deposits recorded in the field mapping exercise (see Appendices, Plate D). Nearly all of the cones date from the late Quaternary and the Holocene since the last caldera collapse 170,000 years ago. These are primarily composed of scoria, i.e. black, vesiculated, basaltic ash, which is often layered and poorly consolidated. The fragmented basaltic rocks were produced by pulsated explosions of magma in contact with the air due to its water composition. The explosions are caused by water passing into the magma when gas escapes from it, causing rapid expansion and emission of fine particles due to the cooling effect of the water.

The scoria can include the accumulation of highly developed augite crystals, which formed prior to the eruption by hundreds of thousands of years. It appears often as fine-grained clumps, or basalt granules, and hydrothermal alteration leads to the formation of while carbonate streaks.

leads to the formation of while carbonate streaks. Figure 9 : thin weathered layers of basaltic

Figure 9: thin weathered layers of basaltic ash steeply dipping

WEATHERING

Ash-fall deposits weather to a fine-grained clay-rich soil over a few hundred years due to Fe leaching by water, induced mainly by vegetation in Tenerife's arid climate as water is retained by the plant and percolates down through the rhizosphere. On the coast, contact with the sea leads to rapid degradation of the cone structure under heavy oxidation; in stratigraphy, vent deposits are not found underneath marine strata.

VOLCANIC BOMBS WITHIN BEACH DEPOSITS

This localised feature found east of El Medano was produced by a synchronous event, in that the basalt fragments were introduced at the time when the beach sand was also being deposited. They are arranged in lobes which have sunk into the sand, suggesting that they were still molten on arrival. The dendritic shape of the boulders indicates that this was an extrusive event. However, the burial of some bombs beneath the sand would have

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources prevented this shape from developing - several of these have

prevented this shape from developing - several of these have been exposed out-with the sand by erosion, a feature which has not yet been explained.

VOLCANIC CYCLES

The stratigraphy across the southeast area of the island is dominated by recent alkaii basalts extruded from over a hundred individual cones spread across the Arena region. Between these deposits are pyroclastic and phonolitic strata comprising ignimbrite, pumice, base surge and ash layers, altogether which were derived from separate events throughout the last million years which affected much of the area as a whole. Each event is separated in the stratigraphic record either by erosion or caldera collapse, or by sedimentary deposits accumulating during quieter periods.

The strata across the region generally link together, although thicknesses in each deposit vary from non-existence to as much as several metres in height. Local topography is an important determining factor of the accumulation and amount found in any given area. Their distinctively bright colour reflects their acid igneous composition, generally with a SiO 2 percentage of around 60.

Ignimbrites (Figure 10)

A pale-yellow, gray or pink pyroclastic

deposit, consisting of vesicles, and often a small to enriched concentration oflithic

fragments. Clasts can be either, or a mixture of, felsic/pumice fragments, and basaltic xenoliths.

Other features can include faint banding (individual eruptions), and trace or embedded fossils caught within the eruption. Accretionary lapilli (mm-few cm diameter) appear as hollowed-out discs within which an ash particle protrudes; ash particles ejected by the eruption attained layers of fine ash before reaching ground level.

attained layers of fine ash before reaching ground level. Figure 10: outcrop showing volcanic layering In

Figure

10:

outcrop

showing

volcanic

layering

In contrast to most deposits of any origin, ignimbrites represent one instant event

composed of one or more pyroclastic explosions which were powerful enough to plane the underlying landscape indiscriminately, including small hills. These density flow eruptions were caused by structural collapse following a period of volcanic activity, and could reach up

to

faunal life in its path.

activity, and could reach up to faunal life in its path. 800 C and achieve a

800 C and achieve a velocity of 300MPH, scorching and destroying all vegetation and

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Silicic Ash Deposits

stratigraphy and water resources Silicic Ash Deposits Often white, very fine grained and compacted to form

Often white, very fine grained and compacted to form thin discrete layers, usually beneath an ignimbrite or pumice layer. Ash can either exist as ash-fall, or ash-flow deposits, whereby the latter is spread in conjunction with the topography. Rippled and wavy banding and lamination may suggest a lacustrine environment of deposition. Base surge deposits of ash produced by initial explosion at the volcano before magma is erupted.

Pumice

This is often a pink, pale brown or yellow unconsolidated deposit consisting of sub-angular to cubic pumice clasts, which contain a delicate fibrous framework, with enough air inside for it to float on water. Layers of pumice are rapidly produced by violent silicic eruptions.

Debri Flow

A very poorly sorted lahar deposit, composed of angular clasts of varied lithology within a

coarse brown mud matrix. Floods occuring in conjunction with lava flow conbined to form a potent hot stream, which inflicted heavy erosion, and carried the debri before scattering them across a wide area.

CYCLES OBSERVED IN THE FIELD

The period of activity recorded lies between around 0.76 Ma (the Saltadiero ignimbrite) and 170,000 years ago. (The sections are on Plates A and B in the appendices.) The Saltadiero eruption began with a cataclastic explosion, producing an ash-fall deposit (Section 7), and accompanied by pumice eruptions (Section 6); this was followed by violent pyroclastic eruption which brought down debri from the volcano side. Around 0.596 Ma, a basaltic eruption occurred, followed by another pyroclastic eruption (the Abades ignimbrite) (Section 7).

Pumice eruptions occurred before another cataclastic explosion, which was also a prelude

to a pyroclastic flow which formed the Poris and Upper Grey units around 320,000 years ago

in some areas (Section 3), with more pumice deposits elsewhere (Section 4). Eruptions then

ceased for long enough for the deposits to weather and soil development took its course. Thereafter further pumice eruptions occurred along with further explosions producing ash layers. Another pyroclastic eruption which blasted the volcano (releasing debris) produced the La Calata ignimbrite around 170,000 years ago (Section 1).

2.2: Sedimentary Deposits and Soil Development

The sediments detailed in this sub-section dale from within the last million years. Throughout that time the coastal climate has mainly been similar to the arid one today- These intermingle with the volcanic cycle deposits, although variations persist over short distances due to ancient channels, erosion and changing sea level.

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

FLUVIAL DEPOSITS

formation, stratigraphy and water resources FLUVIAL DEPOSITS Tenerife along its coast is characterised by fluvial

Tenerife along its coast is characterised by fluvial channels, which are dry throughout the year with the exception of flash floods during occasional storms, leaving behind conglomerates and coarse-grained sands as debris was carried down by the torrent. Fossils found here include land snails and wasps nests, indicating the arid climate which persists within tin-se fluvial valleys almost without interruption. In the past, such valleys have also channelled igneous deposition, including ignimbritics found outside El Medano.

deposition, including ignimbritics found outside El Medano. Figure 11 : fluvial deposits outcrop Coarse sands often

Figure 11: fluvial deposits outcrop

Coarse sands often feature cross-bedding, and are composed of a mixture of basaltic and silicic granules. The conglomerates contain clasts possessing the same mineralogy (plus some pumice). These appear angular, and range from mm-scale pebbles to boulders, some which measure over 40cm in diameter. Beds of these layers are unevenly distributed, reflecting the erosive and changing properties of the cascading flood.

Clay deposits along the valley floors are found where water puddles left by the flood evaporate, depositing fine suspended material, often with microfossils including spores.

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

AEOLIAN AND BEACH DEPOSITS

stratigraphy and water resources AEOLIAN AND BEACH DEPOSITS Strong southerly winds carry dust which abrades exposed

Strong southerly winds carry dust which abrades exposed rock surfaces, leaving unconsolidated sand deposits and small dunes inland from the beach. Section 6 (appendices, Plate C) contains reworked beds due to wind erosion. Rock exposures and their strata are gradually converted into rounded lobular structures, and clasts from conglomerates and volcanic debris flow arc etched from within the matrix.

The beach sand is often a coarse sand of a pale brown colour, dominated by silicic grains, but also containing basaltic grains; a rich concentration of shell fragments derived from bivalves and echinoderms. Pumice-rich varieties are also present east of El Medano (appendices, Plate C, Section 8). Near the Roja vent, a dark red, more basaltic variety is found.

PALAEOSOLS (Figure 12)

These developed further inland as vegetation and fauna colonised areas covered by volcanic deposits, or beach sand (particularly during marine regression). These appear as consolidated brown layers of around 0.5 - 1m in height, due to moisture and organic matter content. Loose clasts at the base fine upward to particle size; calcified fossils include burrows, rootlets and land snails. Calcrete structures and carbonate deposition, created by water evaporation from plagioclase are diagnostic properties of the arid environment.

are diagnostic properties of the arid environment. Figure 12: calciferous precipitation seen at Bandas del Sur

Figure 12: calciferous precipitation seen at Bandas del Sur

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources 3: WATER RESOURCES AND LIMITATIONS 3.1: Evolution of Groundwater in

3: WATER RESOURCES AND LIMITATIONS

3.1: Evolution of Groundwater in Tenerife

During the late Miocene (circa 5Ma), the basaltic foundation of the island was produced as Tenerife converged from 3 distinct volcanoes to form a single island based on a central cone (Figure 13, upper diagram). The accumulating material was initially porous, but during a quiescent period (5 Ma to 3 Ma) in volcanic activity, this was weathered and eroded to produced an impermeable base (Figure 13, lower diagram). The late Pleistocene and Quaternary volcanic deposits, comprising both basic and salic lavas covers over the impermeable base around the central cone, and is still porous. Water (derived solely from the atmosphere from condensation, rain, and at high altitudes, snow in winter) percolates through the rock, particularly following dykes and veins until it reaches the water table. The most important and efficient source of water passing underground is through the Canary pine trees - their needles trap water droplets from the cloud at around 1400 to 2000 m, which then percolates onto the ground and through the soil. Conservation of these forests is a priority, and special reservation is made for these in the Mt. Teide National Park.

is made for these in the Mt. Teide National Park. Figure 13 : principal stages in

Figure 13: principal stages in formation of environment for groundwater

Tenerife is fortunate to receive around 450 mm p.a. of rainfall along its north-western flanks due to its geographical position among the Canary Islands, and the height of the Central Edifice, which traps condensation brought in by Trade Winds to form clouds around 1500m altitude.

However, the quantity of non-saline groundwater in theory represents only a quarter of the actual water which Tenerife receives as precipitation. 72% is lost via run-off into the Atlantic, or is evaporated. The small amount of snowfall accumulating around the peak of Mt. Teide is an important contribution to the groundwater resource, as it melts slowly, allowing more percolation in situ (Figure 14).

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources Figure 14 : movement of water following rainfall upon Tenerife
Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources Figure 14 : movement of water following rainfall upon Tenerife

Figure 14: movement of water following rainfall upon Tenerife interior

Secondly, water not only passes vertically through the porous ignimbrite and recent deposits, but also travels approximately in parallel with the volcano slope, and towards sea level, where it converges with absorbed seawater. As long as fresh groundwater passing down through the volcano is sufficient, the marine saltwater is kept separate below a certain height under pressure induced by the overlying porous volcanic mass. Depletion and over-exploitation of the groundwater will result in infiltration by seawater, as the growing vacuum left behind by the extracted water draws up the seawater.

Fluvial channels throughout much of the year are entirely barren with respect to surface water. As mentioned earlier, clay and storm deposits which still accumulate today are a signature of the periodic events in which water cascades down narrow valleys during occasional storms. This can occur perhaps once or twice a year. The south side of Tenerife is very arid, being on the leeward side of the island. Occasional minor streams emerge around the caldera, but there are no significant streams running to the sea.

3.2: Applications and Limitations

HISTORY

Before tourism became significant, its primary use was for agriculture. Even today, banana plantations are the most profitable arable asset for the island. The Guanchos (indigenous inhabitants of Tenerife since around the second century AD) developed the galleria system, where water springs in gullies were, and still arc, intercepted by channels dug out of the ignimbrite rock face (Figure 15).

The Spanish colonists since the 16 th century adopted this system which was used for plantations, principally sugar production. Streams and waterfalls were abundant in that time: deforestation and increasing agriculture have imposed pressures on the water supply, causing year-round streams to be depleted. With tourism included today, there are almost no all-year-round streams.

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources Figure 15 : tunnel for draining out groundwater An additional
Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources Figure 15 : tunnel for draining out groundwater An additional

Figure 15: tunnel for draining out groundwater

An additional feature to the galleria network was introduced by tapping into the groundwater through tunnelling down to the phreatic zone. Today there are thousands of tunnels. Throughout the 20 th century these have caused the water table to sink by around 200 m - during the late 1970s, the rate of descent was around five metres each year. With much greater demands by tourism, and an increasing population, this rate will be even greater today.

The tunnels themselves have a limited lifetime, and must be extended rapidly to maintain water output (approx. 70m per day). During the late 1970s the average distance was around 3 km, and the longest tunnel was 5 km. Such distances into the volcano can be detrimental to workers due to gases and extreme heat, and so a depth is reached where further excavation becomes inhospitable.

AGRICULTURE

Exports differ from those of colonial plantations up until the last century; sugar and wine have been replaced by a prosperous banana industry, and also a diverse range of vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers and grapes. Ornamental plants are also a commodity. Bananas and tomatoes form the vast majority of farming exports by mass:

Tenerife agricultural output in 1995

Export

Amount sold (tonnes)

Revenue (Bn pesetas)

Bananas

153,619

12.500

Tomatoes

120,000

9.054

Ornamental plants

32,907

4.023

Vineyard grapes

20,175

3.409

Around 90% ol' ail yields are exported to mainland Spain; agriculture account for 10% of GDP on Tenerife, but this fallen from much higher proportions during the 1950s when tourism was starting to become an important resource. The output of certain crops has decreased in recent years; this may be due to land purchasing for new developmenls, which are expanding rapidly. New building sites for plazas, hotels and other tourist facilities sprawl

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

the fringe of Los Christianos.

and water resources the fringe of Los Christianos. In terms of water usage, agriculture, particularly banana

In terms of water usage, agriculture, particularly banana plantations, are demanding: each banana plant utilises 90 litres of water every day. Seen as large white rectangular sites from the air (Figure 16), these are covered with condensation nets to recycle the water.

are covered with condensation nets to recycle the water. Figure 16 : banana fields seen from

Figure 16: banana fields seen from distance (white patches)

TOURISM

Over 3 million visitors, predominantly of Western European origin, visit Tenerife alone each year. The island receives almost half the number of tourists visiting the seven main Canary islands, and at present (2001) is the most popular destination (although the Gran Canarian influx does not fall far short).

Tenerife as a holiday destination is popular with Spanish, British, French, German and Scandinavian tourists. Figure 17 reflects the general (albeit imprecise) increase in numbers during the winter months, with peaks around February and March. Many tourists are retired citizens seeking warmer weather during this time of year. Throughout the year, Tenerife is almost permanently dry and sunny, especially around the coast where precipitation is rare to non-existent.

the coast where precipitation is rare to non-existent. Figure 17 : number of tourists visiting three

Figure 17: number of tourists visiting three of the Canary Islands during the mid-1990s

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources Figure 18 illustrates the dramatic decrease in agricultural

Figure 18 illustrates the dramatic decrease in agricultural employment, the opposite trend in service industry employment, plus the emergence of a new employment sector (construction) on Tenerife during the 1960s through the 1990s. Throughout that time, the island population tripled, but also was also a migration of workers and foreigners to the southern coast as hotels and facilities have been established therein. 5% of the 700,000 population are registered foreigners seeking employment in the tourist sector. As shown in Figure 17, between 200,000 and 350,000 tourists visit the island each month. In 1993, Tenerife received 2.5 million visitors; this increased to over 3 million in 1995. Developments are expanding rapidly around resorts including Las Americas and El Medano.

rapidly around resorts including Las Americas and El Medano. Figure 18 : changes in employment sectors

Figure 18: changes in employment sectors on Tenerife

Spanish environmental groups (such as Fundaciόn Encuentro) have recently criticised the behaviour of the tourist sector's strong dominance on both the economy and Tenerife's natural resources, especially its water requirements, for accommodation, waste treatment and general use in businesses such as restaurants, shops and entertainments.

Water contamination and deterioration in purity is evident. Tap water is highly unsafe for drinking as the waste treatment facilities recycle water which is returned to the water supply network. This is not performed very carefully as the pressures of demands on water by the growing resorts only allow for primary treatment, whereby in some cases, waste is directly disposed into the sea. The water which is returned will contain bacterial populations plus industrial toxins, and is treated with heavy chlorination (detectable by odour using tap- water).

WATER OWNERSHIP

There are no water companies which administer where the water is allocated. Instead it is owned by individual distributors farther uphill, who charge customers in terms of quantities purchased (in "water-hours"). This is a complex system, whereby the owner of the galleria tunnel may charge one or more distributors further downhill, before the water reaches the customer (Figure 19). Some businesspeople have generated considerable wealth through this process, and changes in water piping reflect conflicts over prices and between owners. The supply may be cut off during late night hours in hotels to save money as well as water itself.

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources This autonomous system of water distribution does not allow any

This autonomous system of water distribution does not allow any central authority to monitor and impose legislation on water purity or its rate of exploitation.

legislation on water purity or its rate of exploitation. Figure 19 : a typical Tenerife water

Figure 19: a typical Tenerife water distribution pipeline system from source to receptors

THE IMPENDING WATER CRISIS

Many aquifers have already dried up - several old gallerias and tunnels have been abandoned, with new pipelines linking up to new sources crossing the hillsides.

As the phrcatic zone is a feature which forms a discrete section through the volcanic cone (Figure 14), depletion in one end affects the groundwater abundance throughout the system. Thus the whole of Tenerife will be affected all at once by the oncoming water crisis, probably in the next decade. Seawater drawn up will infect the water supply network - not only is this a health hazard and a great inconvenience for the tourist industry; it is also fatal for agriculture, which is heavily dependent on large quantities.

Predictions include the possibility that the present day demands imposed by agriculture and tourism will induce this shortage within the next decade. New sources of water through desalinization are already being developed in preparation- but will be brought in at a reduced rate, at great expense. The result of the crisis could include widespread unemployment, and a resulting migration of Tenerifians as the economy subsides,

TENERIFE: THE SITUATION IN 2015?

The agricultural sector may be the worst-affected. Individual desalinization plants elsewhere on the Canary Islands produce would have to produce between 100,000 and a million litres of water a day. 4200 hectares of land on Tenerife is given over to farming. Several of these plants would have to be set up simply to meet present-day needs alone. It is likely that significant proportions of the island's agricultural output will become unsustainable, putting many farmers out of business.

Tourism will change significantly as facilities become scarce due to rising water prices and closure of businesses. The rising costs will affect a majority of tourists until only more affluent people will be inclined to visit the island. Water rationing will become a strict

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

priority, similar to resorts on the eastern Canary Islands, on Malta, and in Cyprus.

POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE TO DESALINISATION

Malta, and in Cyprus. POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE TO DESALINISATION The diagram ( Figure 20 ) is a

The diagram (Figure 20) is a simplified illustration of the series of processes required to

make seawater suitable for use not to drinking water standards). Equipment is expensive, and the entire procedure must he performed carefully, since seawater not only is saline, but

is also seriously polluted with organic compounds, inorganic chemicals and pathogens. One

solution thought of in the past was to construct large dams which would retain a portion of the 72% of water reaching Tenerife lost as run-off, particularly on the north-west coast. Due to the porosity of the overlying volcanic deposits however, this would prove to be inefficient due to the lack of watertight catchment basins allowing water to escape underground. The

almost perennial non-existence of rivers and the sporadic nature of torrential rainstorms also make the proposal appear insensible, although a water company may be able to provide the technology and systematic approach to overcome these problems in the future.

approach to overcome these problems in the future. Figure 20 : a design of a desalinisation

Figure 20: a design of a desalinisation plant (sourced from ewatermark.org, 2001)

A short-term proposal may be to ship in water supplies from the continent, and elsewhere

on the Canary Islands. Hierro, less affected by tourism, and with its wetter climate further

west, may be an important source of supplies. At present, some drinking water is imported from elsewhere on the Canary Islands to Tenerife. This may also be expensive however, and would have to be performed in conjunction with desalinization.

CONCLUSION

Realistically, the only way of reversing the trend towards the water crisis at this stage would be to greatly reduce the impact of development, tourism and agriculture, which would adversely affect the economy. Ideally, the population of Tenerife should be much smaller than at present. Neither suggestion would be popular to anyone there within the short time left, hence the drying out of aquifers is probably now unavoidable.

Tenerife contains a unique and very sensitive environment, particularly where water is

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources concerned, and the damage done to this by intensive agriculture

concerned, and the damage done to this by intensive agriculture and rapid urbanization will soon be made known to the local population, forcing them to make difficult decisions on the future of their economy and society.

Literature

REFERENCES

Aranco, Vicente, 1974. Los Volcanoes de las Islas Canarias (Canarian Volcanoes). Tenerife. Pages 26-31,44-45,86-88,122-137

Consejo Superior de Cameras de Comercio, Industria y Navegacion de Espana, 1963. Atlas Comercial de Espana, Madrid. Hoja No.38 (Mapas Provinciales). Provincia de Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Espasa Calpa, S.A., 1998. Atlas de Espana. Canarias; pp168-170. Communidades Autonomas

Websites (accessed February 2001; these may no longer exist)

Arona.org

eWatermark.org

hEureka.org

Islas.com

Web Tenerife

Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources

APPENDICES Plate A

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Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources APPENDICES Plate A 12

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APPENDICES Plate B

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Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources APPENDICES Plate B 13

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APPENDICES Plate C

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Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources APPENDICES Plate C 14

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APPENDICES Plate D

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Tenerife: formation, stratigraphy and water resources APPENDICES Plate D 15