411 VOLCANOES ON TENERIFE !!
NOT THAT WE NEED TO WORRY, apparently. When the tiny island of El Hierro had months of undersea eruptions and earthquakes a couple of years ago, the Tenerife Government issued this statement:
The Cabildo would like to stress that Tenerife remains a safe destination, not only because there is currently no evidence of any risk of volcanic activity, but also because the island is equipped to deal with any volcanic risk situation (evacuation, volcanic surveillance and monitoring programme, etc).
The caldera of Mount Teide is one of the largest in the world, so when the top of the original mountain blew off it must have been a spectacular sight - albeit one best viewed from afar.
The landscape of our adopted island inspired me to write my first book some years ago. Originally I called it ROCK CHILD but in its present draft it is called VOLCANIC RACE. This prologue has never seen the light of day before, so please be kind - and if you're an agent, I'm looking for one!
Picture the scene – a world dotted with volcanoes and cut by rivers of fire that glow bright gold under a dark sky. Dinosaurs graze and hunt, tiny creatures scuttle, insects zip and pester.
Then a meteor the size of a small moon screams a fiery path through the fume-filled atmosphere and bombs a mile-deep hole into the earth’s surface. A billion tons of pulverized rock fountain skywards and the explosion flings an ellipse of mountains around the crater.
The impact creates a hair-line fissure that zigzags down the continent, and the land immediately spews lava in a frantic effort to weld itself back together. Burning vegetation pours smoke into the thickening atmosphere, the stars vanish, and morning never comes. All grazing creatures starve and the predators follow them to a premature grave, insects eat their flesh until that, too, is gone, and there is no life left on the face of the earth.
For decades - maybe centuries – the world is in darkness. The fissure scabs over in time, and the crater, two hundred miles long and girded by mountains high enough to be ice-clad even in summer, is gradually filled by rain, snow-melt and glaciers until it becomes a vast inland sea, from which three rivers spill south. The dust-cloud settles, and in this deep layer of fertile soil long-dormant seeds crack open, and the earth shines with new green.
Eventually a few fish crawl out of the sea on muscular fins and the slow process of evolution re-starts, but when water seeps into the underground lava-flows, the impatient earth mixes it with minerals to create instant life. Before apes learn to walk upright, a race of rockmen has spread out to inhabit the lands divided by the three main rivers.
Near a tributary of the most easterly of those rivers stands a small mountain which, when viewed from the plain, resembles a recumbent giant. Half-way up its steep side, just where the giant’s mouth appears to be, is a cave.