Earthquake Swarm Strikes São Jorge Island in the Azores

About 1,100 small earthquakes have rattled one of Portugal’s mid-Atlantic volcanic islands in less than 48 hours, prompting authorities to activate an emergency plan as experts assess what they have described as a “seismic crisis” on Monday.

Rui Marques, the head of the region’s seismo-volcanic surveillance center CIVISA, said the earthquakes had been recorded on the island of Sao Jorge since Saturday afternoon, with a magnitude ranging from 1.9 to 3.3.

He said that most of the earthquakes, which have caused no damage so far, were reported along the island’s volcanic fissure of Manadas.

The volcanic fissure of Manadas is reported to have last erupted in 1808.

Sao Jorge, one of nine islands that make up the Azores, is home to around 8,400 people and is part of the archipelago’s central group. The popular tourist destinations Faial and Pico can also be found on the same volcanic island.

The sudden increase in seismic activity is reminiscent of the earthquake swarms detected prior to the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain’s La Palma island last year, around 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of the Azores.

CIVISA has sent teams to the ground to set up two additional seismic monitoring stations on the island and measure soil gases, an indicator of volcanic activity.

In a statement on Sunday, the regional Civil Protection authority said it had already contacted local mayors and fire units, and asked them to ‘remain vigilant’ and help the people of Sao Jorge if needed.

“We should not raise an alarm, but we will be attentive to the evolution of the situation,” Mr. Marques told the Antena 1 radio station.


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