Ahead of next year’s Geology trip to Tenerife, we asked A level student James to look back on his experience from the expedition in 2014!
2014 Geology Trip Review
The upper-sixth Tenerife Geology trip has turned into something of a legend amongst the lower year geologists at Truro school, with associations of ‘finding oneself’ and ‘feeling at one with the volcano’. Although at first dubious of these claims, on returning from the blissful sun of the Canary Islands to a cold winter night at Exeter airport, I realized with a warm rush of epiphany, the legends were true.
We left Truro at 3am, ready for a bus drive up north to Exeter airport for our flight to Tenerife. As I left Cornwall for the first time, I was overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and fear, Mr Kenyon reassured me it was all going to be ok and I felt better.
Upon arriving in Tenerife, we were greeted by comfortable temperatures of 25 degrees, which in mid-December was an appreciated novelty. The arid landscape of the island caught our eyes, as we began to notice obvious volcanically produced topographic features such as Scoria cones and pyroclastic successions in cut cliff faces, which we had studied in class in the previous two weeks. Just hours after arriving at our hotel in Puerto de Santiago, we set off on our first field excursion to study the cliffs of the nearby town Los Gigantes.
Known as ‘The Cliffs of the Giants’, these cliffs tower up to 500m above sea below, and are comprised of over seventy basaltic lava flows showing true dip, with vertical feeder dykes cutting across the many layers. Having been on many school trips around Cornwall, seeing rocks of igneous and metamorphic origin, it was refreshing and immensely interesting to study rocks of volcanic origin in situ.
The first morning saw the arrival of the mini busses, which proved to be very valuable resources, allowing us to reach and study any area of the islands geology. For example two days were spend within the caldera of the Las Canadas volcano, an experience that will never be forgotten given the huge scale of the caldera itself. After an hour and a half drive from the hotel, to the the base of Mount Teide (the largest Volcano in Europe), we were able to catch a cable car to the 3718m summit of the volcano, from which we could see an incredible view of the island below.
Another day was spent exploring the extensive underground lava tube network called the ‘Cueva del Viento’ (caves of the wind), located on the north coast of the island. After watching a brief but informative video on the lava tubes formation, equipped with hard hats and headlights we descending into underground lava tubes. We were able to partake in a two hours tour led by local geologists, to study the intricate microscopic ecosystem on the ceiling above our heads, whilst looking at various geological structures formed by the moving basaltic lava before solidification. What struck me most was the 3D interweaving nature and the scale of the tubes, that cannot be portrayed in a class room.
My favourite part of the trip was our descent along a small winding road into the Masca valley, a small mountain village located on the western coast of the island. The towering cliffs and the haze of a dusty sunset provided for some the most beautiful scenery we had ever seen, making it near impossible to turn around and make notes on the pyroclastic surge deposit in the cliff face, however interesting it may have been.
The trip proved to be truly an amazing experience, from which everyone benefitted greatly. I would like to thank all members of staff who made this trip possible, including Mr Mawby for being our guest of honour who not only provided expert advice, but also wore a dinosaur suit to cheers us up when the going got tough.