Paleoseismological evidence for historical surface faulting in São Miguel island (Azores)

Rita Carmo, José Madeira, Ana Hipólito, Teresa Ferreira


The Azores archipelago is located at the triple junction between the Eurasian, Nubian and North American lithospheric plates, whose boundaries are the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Azores-Gibraltar Fault Zone. São Miguel is the largest island of the archipelago and is located on the eastern part of the western segment of the Azores-Gibraltar Fault Zone. The Achada das Furnas plateau, located in the central part of the island, between Fogo and Furnas central volcanoes, is dominated by several WNW-ESE and E-W trending alignments of basaltic cinder cones. Two E-W trending scarps were identified by aerial photo interpretation. Transect trenches exposed two active normal faults-the Altiprado Faults – confirming the tectonic nature of the scarps. Several paleoearthquakes were deduced, most of which in historical times, producing 1.38 m and 0.48 m of cumulative displacement. Maximum expected magnitudes (MW) determined from slip per event range from 5.7 to 6.7. One of the events probably corresponds to the historical earthquake of October 22nd, 1522, the deadliest in the archipelago. Radiocarbon ages are in agreement with this interpretation.


Azores; Neotectonics; Active faulting; Paleoseismology; Seismic hazard

Full Text:



We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it (Read more).

Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X