Portuguese American Journal

São Miguel: Seismic activity considered above normal values – Azores

The Center for Seismic-Volcanic Surveillance of the Azores (CIVISA) has alerted the population of the archipelago for seismic activity being significantly “above normal values.”

Authorities in the Azores have alerted the population of São Miguel in particular for ongoing seismic activity on the island, starting September 20, with over 97 seismic events registered on land and at sea of which 8 were felt by the population. No fatalities or destruction were reported.

The epicenter has been located at sea, between 1 and 5 km south of Povoação, off São Miguel island. The seismic events were also felt in Furnas, Ribeira Quente and Água Retorta.

According to CIVISA, the seismic activity has increased in the last two days with at least five major earthquakes felt on land in the Povoação area on São Miguel, two of which of magnitude 5 on the modified Mercalli scale. In addition, 3 moderate seismic events were registered at sea in the Horostella Fossa.

The most recent significant earthquake to hit the Azores in recent years occurred on January 1, 1980, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale. The quake killed 61 people and injured over 400, causing severe damage on the islands of Terceira and São Jorge. It also shook the islands of Pico and Faial.

The Azores are sitting on the so called “Azores triple junction” area where the North American, Eurasian and African plates meet. This area is responsible for frequent geological and volcanic activity on the islands. The last major volcanic eruption was in 1958 in Capelinhos, Faial island, destroying 300 houses and causing the evacuation of 2,000 people. Earthquake occurrences are common in the Azores, for the most part registered at sea and not felt by the population.

Follow the seismic activity live in the Azores in real time here.


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