IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
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Teide or Pico del Teide is a volcano and the highest mountain (3,715m) in Spain and the highest mountain of any island in the Atlantic. The volcano rises some 7,000m above the seabed from where it began to erupt, making it the third largest volcano by volume on Earth.

Geology  Teide is classified as a stratovolcano. It began to form more than 300,000 years ago. Although it is currently dormant, having last erupted in 1909 from the subsidiary vent of Chinyero on the west slope, a series of small tremors were recorded in 2004. Significant eruptions occurred in 1704-1706 and 1798. The summit has a number of small active fumaroles emitting hot sulphur dioxide and other gases.
Wikipedia notes: "About 150,000 years ago, a much larger explosive eruption occurred, probably of Volcanic Explosivity Index 7, creating Las Cañadas, a large caldera at just over 2,000 m altitude, 15 km across east-west and 10 km north-south. On the south side, the internal crater walls rise as almost sheer cliffs from 2,100 m to 2,715 m at Guajara. The 3,717 m summit of Teide itself, and its subsidiary vent Pico Viejo (3,134 m), both in the northern half of the caldera, derive from eruptions subsequent to this prehistoric explosion".

Further eruptions are considered likely in the future, including a risk of highly dangerous pyroclastic flows. This and its proximity to population centres has led the volcano to be designated a Decade Volcano* worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters (volcanoes identified as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. As of 2007, there are 16.).

Fauna and Flora

Teide is noted for its large number of endemic plants (58 endemic to the Canary Islands and 33 are endemic to Tenerife, giving a level of over 50% of endemic species, 12 species are found exclusively in the National Park.), including:
Cytisus supranubius (Teide broom).
Echium wildpretii (Tajinaste rojo, a spectacular species of bugloss reaching 3 m tall).
Erysimum scoparium, a species of wallflower.  
Lower down, the middle slopes from 1,000-2,000 m are clothed with forests of Pinus canariensis (Pino Canario or Canary Island Pine).
Mouflon (Ovis musimon) were brought to the island for hunting in 1970, and currently number around 500 individuals in the park..

UNESCO note here:

The physical isolation of an oceanic island and the high mountain environment combine to produce a complex biological environment with a high degree of adaptive radiation and endemism. High altitude means that Tenerife is one of the few volcanic islands to have a zonal ecosystem above the tree-line. These are the unique summit retamar (white broom scrub) and peak ecosystems. Together with the lower slopes of the mountain these provide, as in Hawaii, an archetypal ecological succession that was first recognized by Alexander von Humboldt and was instrumental in his development of the concept of ‘geobiology’. The vascular flora of TNP comprises 220 taxa, of which 73 are endemic to the Canaries and 33 to Tenerife, including 16 taxa that are exclusive to TNP. The most characteristic endemics
are the Codeso, Rosalillo de Cumber, Teide Flixweed, Teide Violet and Teide White Broom. TNP also contains three endemic species of reptiles: a lizard (Gallotia galloti galloti), a salamander (Tarentola delalandii) and a skink (Chalcides viridanus viridanus), and twenty bird and five bat species. TNP also displays high levels of endemism within invertebrate populations with 70 species that are exclusive to TNP.

Human History

  • Teide derives its name from the Castilian adaptation of Echeyde, the name given to the mountain by the native Guanches prior to the Spanish colonization. In the Guanches legends, Echeyde denoted hell. Here lived Guayota the demon of evil. Guayota kidnapped the Magec (God of the Light and the Sun), and took him to the insides of Teide. The Guanches begged help from Achamán, their supreme god. Achamán defeated Guayota, and rescued Magec from the depths of Echeyde and blocked the mouth of the crater.
  • The Romans called the island of Tenerife Nivaria, in reference to the snow-capped volcano.
  • Tenerife's current name also derives from the volcano and is a Castilian adaptation of the language of the Benehaorites (Guanches from La Palma): "tene-" (mountain) "-ife" (white).
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries Teide was also known as Mount Pic. Mons Pico in the Montes Teneriffe on the Moon is testament to this.
  • Columbus's ships log includes an account of Teide in eruption
  • Historically, Teide was known in English as the Peak of Tenerife

Historical accounts
Humboldt ascent of El Teide
Darwin's frustrated visit to Tenerife

" Historia Natural de las Islas. Canarias - Histoire Naturelle des. Îles Canaries s. Les Miscellanees Canariennes. Planches. Webb, P. Barker et Berthelot, Sabin. 1839 More images here

Spanish TVE video about nature of Teide (15 minutes)



The volcano and its surrounds, including the whole of the caldera, are protected as a national park, the Parque Nacional del Teide.

Visiting The public bus service TITSA runs a once daily return bus service from Puerto de la Cruz to Teide, and another service, again once a day from Playa de las Americas.
A cable car (Teleférico Teide) goes from the roadside at 2,356 m to 3,555 m. Access to the summit itself is restricted; a free permit (obtainable from the Park office in Santa Cruz, C/ Emilio Calzadilla, 5 - 4º) is required to climb the last 200 m.

UNESCO also note here:

The dominant feature of TNP is the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak in Spain. The volcano stands at some 7,500 m above the ocean floor and is thus regarded as the world’s third tallest volcanic structure. Seen from the sea, Teide has been renown throughout the centuries as a navigational marker for its distinctive silhouette that seems to float above the‘Alizé’ clouds.
Tenerife is composed of a complex of overlapping Miocene-Quaternary stratovolcanoes that have remained active into historical times. Examples of relatively recent volcanism include the Fasnia Volcano (1705) and the eruption of the parasitic ‘Narices del Teide’ (Teide’s Nostrils, 1798). The older and more complex crater of Pico Viejo dates from the Pleistocene. The stratovolcano is located in the centre of a large depression known as Las Cañadas Caldera, which is delimited to the east, south and part of the west by abrupt escarpments of up to 650 m that display the geological history of the area along their 25 km length.

In the east the Las Cañadas escarpment comprises alternating layers of lava and explosion debris, followed by an arc of pumice deposits and, finally, outflow deposits. The landscape continues to develop through active erosion and deposition as exemplified by features such as the Corbata del Teide torrent and the talus slopes of the Las Cañadas wall. To the north and north-west of the stratovolcano the wall of the caldera is absent apart from the caldera is absent apart from a limited escarpment at La Forteleza. This is considered by many to reflect the lateral collapse of a proto-volcano via massive and complex avalanche-like collapses in the direction of Icod and Oratava.

Between the base of the stratovolcano and the foot of the wall is an extensive field of lavas (including obsidian – volcanic glass) and recent pyroclastic material. This area also contains numerous medium and small forms including ridges, cones, craters, volcano fields, domes, fissures, blocks, needles, tubes, channels, badlands and lahars. The geology of TNP represents the entire range of the magmatic series, with a large amount and variety of fully differentiated acid (felsic / phonolitic) volcanic materials
as well as basic (basaltic) materials.

A Biography of Spanish mountains