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Presa del Parralillo, Gran Canaria, Canary islands.

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Photo ID: 776
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Photo Title: Presa del Parralillo, Gran Canaria, Canary islands.
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Keywords:
presa del parralillo, gran canaria, canary islands, barranco de la aldea, san nicolas de tolentino, canyon lands, spectacular, scenery, unspoilt, wilderness, exceptional, beauty, eurasian buzzard, buteo buteo insularum, volcanic explosion, miocene, caldera, caldera de tejeda, volcano, volcanic, stratovolcano, ignimbrites, lava flows, cone sheet, dikes, igneous intrusion,
Description:
The Presa (reservoir) del Parralillo is located in the west of Gran Canaria at the confluence of the Tejeda, Chorrillo and Silo canyons, where it then becomes the Barranco de La Aldea, which runs in a westerly direction to the coast at San Nicolas de Tolentino. These canyon lands of the west make up some of the most spectacular scenery of Gran Canaria, an unspoilt wilderness of exceptional beauty, where the only sounds are of the winds blowing through the dry grasses and the “piuuuuh” of the Eurasian Buzzard (Buteo buteo insularum) seen drifting high above the rocky ridges. The canyon is so deep that down inside the temperatures can soar to 40 degrees or more. These canyon lands form part of the most dramatic geological history of the island of Gran Canaria. It began some 14.1 million years ago, when a cataclysmic volcanic explosion created an elliptical caldera estimated to have been 18 x 28 kilometres in size and up to 1000 metres deep, the Caldera de Tejeda, a caldera which was only to be refilled again over the next million years, as explosive eruptions continued emitting layers of ignimbrites and lava flows. Then at around 13 million years ago, there was a resurgence of the island’s volcanism comprising of magmas of a chemically different composition and which instead of the eruptions being from ring fractures inside the caldera’s periphery, the focal point of activity moved to the centre of the caldera, with the formation of a high stratovolcano. The ignimbrites and lava flows emitted from this volcano at intervals of around 50,000 years, between 12.6 and 9 million years, were to completely bury the remains of the caldera and overflow its flanks, building huge accumulations of lava flows which reached the coastline to the north and south of the island. It is during this period when the early paleo-canyons began to take their shape, owing to the increased erosion caused by the new high central volcano and the long time periods between eruptions. This stage was accompanied and followed by the large scale intrusion of several hundred cone sheet dikes that formed a 12 km diameter intrusive complex within the Miocene Caldera de Tejeda between 12.3 and 7.3 million years ago, intruding into the lavas and ignimbrites that had previously filled in this caldera, resulting in a structural uplift of the core zone by as much as 1,400 metres. Following this there was a long period with little or no volcanic activity, when erosion really began to carve into the rock formations, until there was yet another new period of very large scale volcanic activity between 4.6 and 3 million years ago, the Roque Nublo Cycle, which was again to build a stratovolcano in the centre of the island. The lava flows and breccia sheets emitted during this time were to fill in the previously carved out canyons, forming new ridges of volcanic materials. Finally after all these events, there was to be no more volcanic activity in the south-western area of the island and for over 3 million years now erosion has been the only factor involved, shaping this entire area into that of a very beautiful, rugged and mostly inaccessible landscape and revealing the full extent of the hundreds of cone sheet dikes. The lines of sub vertical rocky ridges just above the reservoir on the left side of the image are the eroded remains of the cone sheet dikes.
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