Thousands of small earthquakes have been recorded on a volcanic island in the Azores archipelago. The Portuguese authorities have activated an evacuation plan.
Lisbon – Since last Saturday (March 19), around 2000 earthquakes have been recorded on São Jorge. The fear of a severe earthquake or a volcanic eruption on the Portuguese volcanic island is growing. The region’s seismic-volcanic monitoring center CIVISA has upgraded the volcano alert to level 4 out of 5, meaning there is a “real possibility of an eruption”. The highest possible volcano warning level in the current situation. Level 5 can only be called in the event of a volcanic eruption. The Azores regional government is preparing an evacuation plan if the situation on the island worsens.
Azores: Evacuation plan activated after several earthquakes on volcanic island
“The situation is worrying because the entire epicenter of these earthquakes is on the island and not in the sea,” said President of the Government of the Azores José Manuel Bolieiro, according to local media reports. About 8300 people live on the island of São Jorge.
According to scientists, however, it is difficult to predict the consequences of the ongoing seismic activity. Further geophysical data are still missing in order to be able to better interpret these tremors. According to experts, it is still unclear whether the seismic swarms could be an indication of a volcanic eruption.
“Anything could happen, nothing could happen”
“The origin of this seismicity may be related to the rise of magma in an igneous dike, a phenomenon that causes the fragmentation of rocks at depth, leading to the release of elastic energy in the form of earthquakes,” explains the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).
“Anything could happen, nothing could happen,” Bolieiro told reporters in TV commentary during a visit to the island.
Portugal holiday warning after earthquake: avoid traveling to Azores island of São Jorge
The Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) has also issued a yellow warning for Friday and Saturday for the nine islands of the Azores. Heavy rain and severe thunderstorms are expected. Landslides could occur due to the ongoing minor earthquakes along with the rains. Faced with this scenario, the authorities are instructing the population in the most affected areas of the island of São Jorge to leave their homes.
The Federal Foreign Office in Berlin has updated the travel and safety information for Portugal on its website. “Due to the exceptionally large number of seismic activities that have occurred on São Jorge (Azores) since March 19, 2022, the Azores authorities are currently advising against unnecessary travel to São Jorge as a precautionary measure.”
São Jorge is one of the nine islands of the Azores, lying about 1500 kilometers west of mainland Portugal. On the island which is also a popular tourist destination.
The last volcanic eruption on land in the Azores took place in 1957 on the island of Faial. An earthquake on the same island in 1998 killed ten people. There was a volcanic eruption on the Azores island of São Jorge more than 200 years ago. A major earthquake hit the island in 1980 and caused severe damage.
The sudden surge in seismic activity is reminiscent of the earthquakes that preceded the eruption of Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma last year. La Palma is about 1400 kilometers southeast of the Azores. (ml) *Merkur.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA
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