Aerial view of São Jorge with the westernmost headland of Ponta dos Rosais in the foreground. (© José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha de Costa)

Seismic activity in Azores island “higher than normal”

São Jorge registers more than 1,100 low magnitude quakes since Saturday afternoon

Seismic activity on the island of São Jorge, in the Azores, “remains above the reference values”, reports Lusa today, with “more than 1,100 low-magnitude earthquakes” recorded since Saturday afternoon.

Admittedly only 63 were “felt by the local population”, but even this is more than usual.

The information came from Rui Marques, president of the Information and Seismovulcanic Surveillance Centre of the Azores (CIVISA), who stresses that it is “not yet possible to know the pattern of behaviour of this seismic crisis”.

“We are monitoring the situation, but it is still too early to understand…”

Four CIVISA technicians are now on the island to “increase the capacity of on-site monitoring”.

The quakes are taking place between the town of Velas, in the south of the island, and Fajã do Ouvidor, on the north coast.

“The only thing we can say for sure at this moment is that the values are above what is normal for this volcanic system. CIVISA will continue to follow all the monitored parameters very closely, maintaining a close relationship with the Regional Service of Civil Protection and Firefighters of the Azores, which is also in close cooperation with the municipal services of civil protection of Velas and Calheta, the two municipalities of São Jorge island,” Marques told Lusa.

“At this moment, our concern with this system is the same concern we should have with any active volcanic system. We have an active volcanic system that right now has a seismic crisis. We will continue to monitor it.” 

São Jorge island, like all those within the archipelago, have a history of quakes and volcanic eruptions. The image above was taken from a wordpress site called volcanohotspot, which carried a citation from 1808: “After another seven days, a fire exploded in the vicinity of the parish of Santo Amaro, where it opened two mouths of fire, such as two great ravines of fluid material, and with such force that on the second day, we encountered more than a moio of fields of lava in the direction of the homes, forcing the people to flight; the vicar, Rev. Amaro Pereira de Lemos, lost his senses and his sister D. Anna Maria de Lemos went crazy.

(Father João Ignácio da Silveira, May 1808)

Source: Lusa