The morphology of the source area of the Canary Debris Flow has been mapped using both GLORIA reconnaissance and TOBI high-resolution sidescan sonar systems. West of ≈19°W, the seafloor is characterized by a strongly lineated downslope-trending fabric. This fabric can be interpreted as being caused by streams of debris separated by longitudinal shears. Multiple flow pulses are indicated by a series of asymmetrical lateral ridges which mark the northern boundary of the flow. East of ≈19°W, GLORIA data show only a weak fabric of irregular patches and alongslope lineaments. The TOBI data show the patches to be coherent sediment blocks up to 10 km across, surrounded by debris flow material. These are interpreted as in situ areas of seafloor sediment which have survived the slope failure and debris flow event rather than transported fragments of a failed sediment slab. TOBI data from the best developed area of alongslope lineaments show a series of small faults downstepping to the west. This area of seafloor is interpreted as one of partial sediment failure, where the failure process became ‘frozen’ before total mobilization of the seafloor sediments could occur. The overall morphology of the failure area indicates removal of a slab-like body of sediment, although we cannot distinguish between retrogressive and slab-slide failure mechanisms. If the latter mechanism is applicable, fragmentation of the failing ‘slab’ must have commenced concurrently with the onset of downslope transport. Immediately upslope from the debris flow source area, a seafloor of characteristic rough blocky texture is interpreted as the surface of a debris avalanche derived from the slopes of the island of El Hierro. The debris flow and avalanche appear to be simultaneous events, with failure of the slope sediments occurring while the avalanche deposits were still mobile enough to fill and disguise the topographic expression of the debris flow headwall. Loading of the slope sediments by the debris avalanche most probably triggered the Canary Debris Flow.