Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 74, Issue 5, pp 963–980 | Cite as

Dykes and structures of the NE rift of Tenerife, Canary Islands: a record of stabilisation and destabilisation of ocean island rift zones

  • A. DelcampEmail author
  • V. R. Troll
  • B. van Wyk de Vries
  • J. C. Carracedo
  • M. S. Petronis
  • F. J. Pérez-Torrado
  • F. M. Deegan
Research Article


Many oceanic island rift zones are associated with lateral sector collapses, and several models have been proposed to explain this link. The North–East Rift Zone (NERZ) of Tenerife Island, Spain offers an opportunity to explore this relationship, as three successive collapses are located on both sides of the rift. We have carried out a systematic and detailed mapping campaign on the rift zone, including analysis of about 400 dykes. We recorded dyke morphology, thickness, composition, internal textural features and orientation to provide a catalogue of the characteristics of rift zone dykes. Dykes were intruded along the rift, but also radiate from several nodes along the rift and form en échelon sets along the walls of collapse scars. A striking characteristic of the dykes along the collapse scars is that they dip away from rift or embayment axes and are oblique to the collapse walls. This dyke pattern is consistent with the lateral spreading of the sectors long before the collapse events. The slump sides would create the necessary strike-slip movement to promote en échelon dyke patterns. The spreading flank would probably involve a basal decollement. Lateral flank spreading could have been generated by the intense intrusive activity along the rift but sectorial spreading in turn focused intrusive activity and allowed the development of deep intra-volcanic intrusive complexes. With continued magma supply, spreading caused temporary stabilisation of the rift by reducing slopes and relaxing stress. However, as magmatic intrusion persisted, a critical point was reached, beyond which further intrusion led to large-scale flank failure and sector collapse. During the early stages of growth, the rift could have been influenced by regional stress/strain fields and by pre-existing oceanic structures, but its later and mature development probably depended largely on the local volcanic and magmatic stress/strain fields that are effectively controlled by the rift zone growth, the intrusive complex development, the flank creep, the speed of flank deformation and the associated changes in topography. Using different approaches, a similar rift evolution has been proposed in volcanic oceanic islands elsewhere, showing that this model likely reflects a general and widespread process. This study, however, shows that the idea that dykes orient simply parallel to the rift or to the collapse scar walls is too simple; instead, a dynamic interplay between external factors (e.g. collapse, erosion) and internal forces (e.g. intrusions) is envisaged. This model thus provides a geological framework to understand the evolution of the NERZ and may help to predict developments in similar oceanic volcanoes elsewhere.


Oceanic island rift zones Lateral collapses Intrusive complex Dykes Lateral flank spreading Tenerife 



L. Mathieu and S. Wiesmaier are thanked for their help in the field. R. Paris provided us with the DEM of Tenerife. D. Chew, A. Tibaldi, V. Acocella, P. Einarsson and two anonymous reviewers are greatly thanked for their comments and suggestions on earlier versions of the manuscript. This work was jointly founded by a National Geographic Society Grant in aid of research award 8106-06 (Petronis and Troll), by an Irish Research Council for Sciences, Engineering and Technology Grant (Delcamp and Troll) and by a Spanish Plan Nacional de I + D + I research project CGL2008-02842/BTE (Carracedo and Pérez-Torrado).

Supplementary material

445_2012_577_MOESM1_ESM.doc (23.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 23.8 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Delcamp
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • V. R. Troll
    • 1
    • 6
  • B. van Wyk de Vries
    • 2
  • J. C. Carracedo
    • 3
  • M. S. Petronis
    • 4
  • F. J. Pérez-Torrado
    • 3
  • F. M. Deegan
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Geology, Museum BuildingTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans CNRS-UMR 6524Université Blaise Pascal, Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, LMV, CNRS, UMR 6524, IRD R163Clermont-FerrandFrance
  3. 3.GEOVOL, Dpto. FísicaUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas PalmasSpain
  4. 4.Environmental Geology Natural Resource Management DepartmentNew Mexico Highlands UniversityLas VegasUSA
  5. 5.Department of GeographyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Earth Sciences, CEMPEG, Section for Mineralogy, Petrology and TectonicsUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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