Scientists and authorities combine to reassure public about seismic cluster

Graphics: Involcan.

Updated 5 October 2pm: Involcan says that the most significant conclusions from its initial analysis are that the cluster can be formally classified as long-period seismic-volcanic events, with the initial records underestimating the number of tremors which could actually have been over 400, forming a continuous stream for an hour and a half from 6pm on Sunday.

Involcan continues that the apparent line of the tremor points is probably more a product of the location of the measuring points, with the tremors being more in a cluster than the image suggests, and the depth is almost certainly not as deep as the minimum 10km declared by IGN. The spectra show similarities with those of other long-period events, which occurred most notably in Tenerife in 2004.

Involcan says that it must insist, once again, on the complete absence of an “action-reaction” sequence to this phenomenon, and on the need to avoid baseless alarmism. Involcan says that these phenomena can go as quickly as they come without any related activity, and that it is continuing to research and will communicate any relevant information as appropriate.

The Instituto Geográfico Nacional for its part has concluded that the “micro-tremors” are of a volcanic nature, and that although their exact cause is unknown, their behaviour is within the range of “normal” for an active volcano. IGN has taken part in a meeting of the Comité Científico de Evaluación y Seguimiento de Fenómenos Volcánicos as part of the application of PEVOLCA, which I described in the 4th October update below, and says that the release of energy in the clusters is extremely small, so that we are far from a possible eruption. IGN confirms Involcan’s information that no deformation has been detected, and that these are typical and normal occasional events. The Institite will also be continuing its researches over coming days and weeks.

I have also been contacted by a fully qualified professional geologist and vulcanologist who says that low magnitude earthquakes occur all the time, and are a sympton of a dynamic planet. He stressed that any explosive eruption in the future would almost certainly be measurable in geological ages rather than human years! He said that current signs do not point in that direction at all, and could not suggest an eruption without the tremors starting to coalesce towards Teide.

His advice, like that of Involcan, IGN, Avcan, the Tenerife Cabildo and the British Consulate – to whom I’ve spoken in the last few minutes – is to stay calm and carry on as normal, because in Tenerife terms, all is actually “as normal”.

Updated 3pm: Here is the Tenerife Cabildo’s own English version of the statement they issued a couple of hours ago and which I posted in the 2pm update below.

The Tenerife Tourism Corporation, a public entity under the Tenerife Island Government, wants to refute the incorrect information recently published by some British media in which it is stated that a volcanic eruption in Tenerife is imminent.

Such information is untrue and not based on any official reports or data. Both the Volcanology Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan) and the National Geographic Institute (IGN) – official sources on this matter – report that the island experienced a series of micro earthquakes, following a northeast-southwest direction, in the early hours of last Sunday. None of them were detected by the people of Tenerife and, as confirmed by the IGN, they were not due to any seismic activity but to low intensity tectonic movements.

Involcan states that the tremors could be related to the hydrothermal system of the volcano, and not to a magmatic intrusion, which would, in any case, be a “common situation which should not frighten anybody”.

Due to its volcanic origin, Tenerife is continuously monitored and any seismic activity associated with magma would be detected in very early stages. It is worth pointing out that the last volcanic eruption that took place on the island happened over 100 years ago, causing no personal injuries of any kind.

Therefore, everything is as calm as usual in Tenerife; there have been no changes related to these micro earthquakes and there are no current risks. Everyday life remains the same in the island’s cities, towns and tourist areas – the situation is totally safe. The Tenerife Tourism Corporation advises obtaining information exclusively from official sources rather than from sensationalist articles to avoid unnecessary fear and confusion.

Updated 2pm: The Tenerife Cabildo has issued the following statement (click the image to see full size). I’ll get a translation on here in due course but the gist of it is that it deplores the articles today in the British press, i.e. the Express and also, now, it seems, The Sun, which have sensationalized the cluster episode here for their own purposes with absolutely no regard for truth or fact. The Cabildo confirms what I’ve already said in previous posts, that not one element of the tremors has been perceived in any way by any of the public, and that they are very likely related to hydrothermic systems rather than volcanic ones, and do not represent any sort of threat to public safety.


Updated 12.30pm: As a point of interest, and nothing more, a new cluster of tiny tremors started to be registered at 7am today, Avcan reports. The tremors stopped around 9am and then resumed half an hour later and are still continuing at the time of posting. These tremors are below the level which IGN now records, and again there is no cause for concern … and these tremors are far too low to be felt, heard or otherwise perceived by the public.

Updated 4 October: Although Involcan is still continuing its research into the cluster, the Daily Express has excelled itself by reporting panic in Tenerife because “Teide’s about to blow” (link). And so, just to reiterate …

The “cluster episode is over”, Involcan says, and is almost certainly connected to hydrothermic, rather than volcanic, activity: in other words, there is no risk of an eruption. Moreover, the cluster was of tremors at a depth of between 10 and 40km, and magnitude <1, which means they were unperceived – and unperceivable – to anyone. They were registered by machines, and the following video from Actualidad Volcánica (Avcan) reproduces what they sounded like after the inaudible data values were converted to sound waves, a process known as audification.

The Express article also attempts to cause fear by implying that there is neither programme nor education about what to do in the event of an eruption, nor an evacuation protocol. All of these claims are false.  The Canarian Government held its latest of several simulation exercises only two years ago, imagining an explosive grade 5 eruption from Teide’s Pico Viejo (link). In terms of education, documents are made available to schools by Protección Civil like THIS one: these things are taught to the public here from childhood!

Finally, the idea that “we need a plan” is idiotic. There is already a plan, a protocol, and a Government agency in place. We live on an active volcano so the idea that people are whistling into the wind and living on hope is simply insulting to the authorities here. The Canarian Government’s Plan Especial de Protección Civil y Atención de Emergencias por riesgo volcánico en la Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias (Pevolca) is enshrined in legislation, and annex 2 of the document is a public information and advice leaflet: you can read it HERE.

Updated 3 October: Involcan says that no seismic movements were registered throughout the night, and so the “cluster episode” is over. The institute assures the public that although interesting, such clusters are no cause for alarm, being typical of active volcanoes. Their relative rarity in Tenerife, however, obliges vulcanologists to study yesterday’s cluster.

Involcan confirmed that what can be said at present is that GPS stations show no deformations, which suggests no injection of magma into the subsoil, and further, that the cluster is related more to Teide’s hydrothermal system. Further analysis will be carried out in this respect throughout today. Involcan’s two teams are already on site studying carbon dioxide emissions.

The institute reiterates that although yesterday’s cluster was “an anomaly”, it represents no cause for alarm, and that in no case is there an action-reaction sequence. What such clusters show is the dynamic systems of active volcanoes such as Teide. Involcan says that it will release more information as it becomes available.

Original post 2 October: Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias says that although they were all minor, there has been a series of earthquakes in west Tenerife today. Involcan says that these are typical of those produced in active volcanoes, and the number of tremors is still waiting detailed analyis, but the event can be classified as a “seismic cluster” on a NE-SW alignment, with some 90 tremors being recorded between lunchtime and 10pm. Involcan says that it is continuing to monitor the activity and is organizing two working groups which are being sent to the area tonight.



  1. What with UK press standards at an all-time low, claim clinic scandals and Brexit, one wonders if we will still be welcome here any time soon!

  2. Andy , you missed my point entirely , that there is more than one person reading a particular publication at any onetime , whether you agree with the politicics/news or not, so to call a publication gutter press, what does that imply to the person that regulalry reads that particular news media? Are they people that themselves in theory are inhabitants of a gutter? I think that I read a more general news coverage of most media outputs, so I think you should revise your opinions. PAL

  3. Pity but most of the lies these comics tell just aren’t true.

  4. Express and sun are just scaremongering .

    Take it with a pinch of salt like most things in the media!

    Drama sells newspapers , dull news does not make them profit . So with all the competition they have with eachother to sell papers , they fabricate and the news to suit them. In turn the sheep of the work believe the crap they print and buy the papers.

  5. Thanks for that information. I am always aware that we live on a volcano so its always good to be informed. Good article.

  6. Richard – The Daily Express is not gutter press? -This was the headline they used;
    VOLCANO WARNING: Panic on Tenerife amid fears huge Mount Teide is about to BLOW

    What planet have you come from pal?

  7. I would like to say that I have purchased, and read the Daily Express for several decades, and I would not describe it as gutter press, does your comment imply that I live in a gutter too, what fine publications do you read Sarah Webster, Marguerita,, and others? I have not even seen or read the supposed article, although being a regular traveller to Tenerife I would have thought the headline would have jumped out at me?

  8. Typical British gutter press, I had noted that it wasn’t reported elsewhere but was still worried as due to visit in 10 days. Thank you for putting our minds at rest!

    1. Author

      Hence in my 12.30 update I said “As a point of interest, and nothing more, a new cluster of tiny tremors started to be registered at 7am today, Avcan reports. The tremors stopped around 9am and then resumed half an hour later and are still continuing at the time of posting. These tremors are below the level which IGN now records, and again there is no cause for concern … and these tremors are far too low to be felt, heard or otherwise perceived by the public.”

  9. Thanks Janet for a very informative and calming report…we own a villa in Golf del Sur but live in UK so must admit we were a bit concerned about the scaremongering….we will be there at end of the month for our usual 6 week stay….can’t wait!…thanks again xx

  10. I was in Crete when they had a minor quake , 10 miles offshore, there was a surge that dragged me and others out in water (on gravelly, swirling sea bottom, not nice! )… Then to be thrown back on a huge wave that removed my costume and soaked the people on the beach.

  11. I think the gutter press just love stirring up people for whatever reason they feel like
    To sell papers.utterly irresponsible and scaremongering.
    We are all fine here on our little “reef” that is Tenerife.

  12. Why is it that the press in the UK seem to think its ok to panic people over the slightest thing, with no concern as to the effect it has on peoples lives and livelihood.

  13. Hi Janet, thanks for your update, however, as a non Spanish speaking or reading resident, if the worst happened and we had an eruption, are the public information leaflets available in English or other languages?, as I am sure there are many nationalities here in the same position as myself who wouldn`t have a clue what to do in an emergency situation such as an eruption.

    1. Author

      I’m afraid that I’m not aware that there is, but of course my own site along with many others will be issuing advice live and up to date should anything occur.

  14. Excellent article as always Janet. Thank you for the wealth of information and FACTS!

  15. Hi Susan, my son is living on the slopes of Mt Teide to the east of Tejina de Isora. He said that he never felt anything & none of the locals that he spoke to did either. I suggested that he bought a carbon monoxide alarm just in case, but as he doesn’t have a car there’s not much else that he can do apart from leave the island if he feels uncomfortable living that close to Mt Teide. At least if there were any developments, unlike historic recorded volcanic events the population is mobile & has the option to take action if it ever became required. Also with communication nowadays people are more aware of both threats & reassurances.

  16. Well done putting peoples mind at rest Janet. The crazy report is also in the sun. What kind of reporters do these papers employ who seem hell bent on causing panic

  17. Thanks for the update Janet, its the first time I heard of this happening in Tenerife as the Volcano is dormant, but I suppose this kind of activity still goes on deep in the earth. Well done on the reporting

  18. Interestingly, friends reported a surge of water that inundated the Lido in Los Gigantes that same day, leaving a number of crabs to scitter back to the sea. Any connection?

    1. Author

      Jill: I don’t see how there’s a connection, but I’m not a vulcanologist!

      Susan: yes, there’s constant activity, it seems, even with dormant volcanoes.

  19. Very interesting as this happened just days after I read an article stating Tiede was “sleeping”. Thank you Janet, I look forward to further updates.

    1. Author

      well it’s both really! Teide is an active volcano, but it’s not erupting, so is dormant. This little cluster is still to be analysed but it is not connected with an “eruption”.

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