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News > Commentary - Seismic activity on the Azores
Capelinhos Volcano
Capelinhos Volcano, Faial Island, Azores
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Seismic activity on the Azores

Posted 2/23/2012   Updated 2/23/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Eduardo Lima
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/23/2012 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- The most recent volcanic eruption in the Azores occurred in 1957 just off-shore of the northwest tip of Faial Island, near Capelinhos village.

The eruption and subsequent earth tremors didn't cause any deaths, but left hundreds of people homeless, forcing many of them to immigrate to the United States and Canada.
The Azores has experienced several seismic crises over the past four decades, especially on the islands of Pico, São Jorge, Faial, Graciosa and Terceira.

The most recent non-volcanic serious seismic crisis occurred July 9, 1998, on the islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge when an earthquake, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, destroyed hundreds of dwellings and killed nine people.

Terceira Island has not been immune to these types of natural catastrophes either. The last major seismic event happened 32 years ago when in the sunny afternoon of Jan. 1, 1980, an earthquake of tectonic origin, measuring 7 on the Richter scale, rocked the islands of Terceira, Graciosa and São Jorge.

This major earthquake killed more than 60 people and destroyed hundreds of residences, leaving thousands of people homeless on all three islands. Fortunately, Lajes Field didn't suffer any significant structural damage since the earthquake's epicenter was located 40 kilometers off the western side of Terceira Island, between this island and the Island of São Jorge.

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