The study started with palaeotopographical reconstructions of areas affected by recent volcanic activity. "This allows our methodology to show geomorphological changes according to volcanic type and the periods of erosion involved", explains Rodrguez-Gonzlez.
North of the island faces greatest risk of eruption
The volcanologists expect that the next volcanic eruption on the island will be of the "strombolian monogenetic type", producing a cone of between 30 and 250 metres in height and a lava flow of between 100 and 10,000 metres in length.
One of the most heavily populated areas in the north east of the island has experienced the highest level of volcanic activity over the past 11,000 years, and it is therefore likely that this volcanic activity will continue in future. However, it is impossible to predict when such an eruption will take place. "While it is possible to determine where there is the greatest future danger, our current understanding of volcanic phenomena does not allow us to predict when an eruption will take place", explains Rodrguez-Gonzlez.
The new results highlight the fact that there were three groups of volcanic activity during the Holocene "separated by four periods of inactivity". The first of these took place more than 10,000 years ago, with the single eruption at El Draguillo, to the east of the island. The other series of eruptions took place between 5,700 and 6,000 years ago, and between 1,900 and 3,200 years ago. Archaeological studies show that the most recent period of eruptions affected prehistoric human settlements on the island.
However, the researchers say that currently "the number of eruptive centres is on the increase, and periods of volcanic inactivity are getting shorter". They also warn that over the past 11,000 ye
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology