Astronauts train here. Considered as one of the most extraterrestrial places on the planet, walking around Lanzarote is an otherworldly experience. Having emerged out of the Atlantic Ocean 15 million years ago, the volcanic island is a spectacle of a raw Earth.
“Here, basaltic lava flows resemble vast plains on the lunar maria and volcanoes are similar to those in some regions of Mars.” - ESA (The European Space Agency).
More than scenic, the spaces found on the island also draw a visitor into a time-travelling experience.
One can witness the early stages of our world and the genesis of life.
The barren and black land is made of layer upon of layer of razor-sharp volcanic rock. The latter is slowly eaten away by lichens, which in their wake, produce the first forms of soil, on which plants can germinate and grow. This hard work eventually attracts other forms of flora, and ultimately fauna; slowly establishing a newborn ecosystem.
Wandering here offers a glimpse through “deep time”. What we can observe here are the first stages of life on land; All made possible by the courageous work of the pioneers.
A pioneer species is one that is first to colonise a barren environment.
On land, these tends to be hardy species of mosses, ferns, grasses, shrubs and lichens.
Being able to grow on solid rock, lichens are usually the first life forms to arrive. Lichens (meaning “licker” in Greek) are composite organisms of cyanobacteria or algae, in a matrix of fungi. By excreting various organic acids, they mine through the raw rock and release precious minerals. Over eons, they produce a rich soil which invites hardy wind-pollinated plants to join them in their quest to conquer and shape new landscapes.
My project gives a cheeky standing ovation to these pioneer species that have the courage to tackle and conquer such desolate and hostile environments.
They brave the oven-fresh barren landscapes and season them into vibrant ecosystems;
Striking the inorganic into an organic symphony, they pave the path on which life can dance.
If it weren’t for them, we would not be here.
All photographs were taken on the island of Lanzarote and along the volcanic trails on the island of La Palma (Canary islands, Spain).