Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 323–337 | Cite as

Reconstructing the environmental conditions of extinct coastal dune systems using historical sources: the case of the Guanarteme dune field (Canary Islands, Spain)

  • Aarón Santana Cordero
  • María L. Monteiro Quintana
  • Luis Hernández Calvento


The reconstruction of environmental conditions allows us to categorize an area before it has suffered disturbances or even completely disappeared. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the natural conditions of the Guanarteme dune system (Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain) before it disappeared, focusing on studying its processes, landforms and vegetation cover. To this end, both primary sources and bibliographical references have been used as the basis of a description for the environmental state of this system between the 15th century and the middle of the 20th century, when the system was considered extinct. The different shapes and forms of the dunes over the centuries have enabled us to study the system evolution: its landforms have changed both in shape and number, as has the volume of sediments. This variation becomes obvious when we study the appearance of the system at the different dates of analysis. These changes are linked to the aeolian sediment dynamics, which are fairly stable from the 15th century until the last third of the 19th century, when a large amount of sediment in circulation was observed together with the shift of large aeolian landforms.


Historic mapping Oral sources Dunes Canary Islands Historical reconstruction Vegetation 



This piece of work is a contribution to project CSO2010-18150 of the Spanish National Plan of R&D + I (innovation), co-financed by European Regional Development Funds. The basic research has been possible thanks to a student grant, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Education. We would like to thank a number of institutions for giving us permission to reproduce some of the figures included in this article (the Simancas General Archive of the Spanish Ministry for Culture, the Ministry of Defense and FEDAC). Authors would like to thanks the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which have improved our manuscript. The translation to English was carried out by Heather Adams (ULPGC) and revised by InvestigAdHoc. Authors would like to thank Instituto de Historia y Cultura Militar de España for its authorization to publish the historical maps of the Fig. 6.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aarón Santana Cordero
    • 1
  • María L. Monteiro Quintana
    • 2
  • Luis Hernández Calvento
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de investigación Geografía Física y Medio Ambiente, Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio GlobalUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC)Las Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencias HistóricasUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC)Las Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain

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