Monday, 27 November 2017

The Cueva del Viento - Largest lava tube in the European Union - Tenerife

The Cueva del Viento-Sobrado underground complex is the largest lava tube in the European Union. It was created by lava flows from Pico Viejo, next to Mt. Teide. 

A visit to Cueva del Viento gives you an insight into the role of lava flows in a volcanic eruption, and offers you the chance to see the whimsical forms sculpted by the lava in the bowels of the earth. Is a fine example of the complexity of geology.

There are three different passage levels in the more than 17 kilometres of tubes, together with beautiful geo-morphological phenomenon like chasms, terraces and other lava formations.

Geological and biological importance
The Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind) is a volcanic cavity located in the district of Icod de los Vinos bearing the same name. Formed 27,000 years ago in basaltic lavas from the Pico Viejo volcano during its first eruptive phase, it is located in the foothills of Mount Teide.

This tube is the fourth longest in the world (18 kilometres) and is a true labyrinthine network of underground passages, with many unexplored ramifications, which will permit the future expansion of its length as exploration continues. Apart from its size, the Cueva del Viento is noted for its unique geomorphology. Its network of galleries consists of three superimposed levels, a phenomenon that has not been noted anywhere else in the world. Its name is due to the significant flows of air that occur in its interior.

Biologically the greatest relevance of this tube lies in its subterranean fauna which provides a constant source of new findings. The cave has a total of 190 known species. Of these, forty-eight are troglobites, animals that can live only in the subsurface environment. Among these species doomed to live in the dark, fifteen are new to science such as the eyeless cockroach Loboptera subterránea or the ground beetles or carabids Wolltinerfia martini and Woltinerfia tenerifae.

From a geomorphological perspective, the Cueva del Viento features a wide variety of structures such as lava stalactites, lava cascades, side terraces and lava lakes among others, as well as exogenous concretions of different composition (calcium carbonate, cristobalite, and other silica compounds).

Inside are also lots of vertebrate fossils of extinct animals like the giant rat and the giant lizard, and other skeletal remains of extinct species in Tenerife such as the Rook and the Houbara Bustard.

 For guided routes through this tunnel, visit:- 

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