Earth scientists attempt to clear up ‘enigma’ of quake-hit Azorean island

An aerial view exhibits a volcano crater close to Velas as small earthquakes have been recorded on Sao Jorge island, Azores, Portugal, March 30, 2022. Image taken with a drone. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Picture

LISBON – Crammed with uncertainty, consultants are scrambling for solutions to elucidate uncommon seismic exercise that has rattled the mid-Atlantic volcanic island of Sao Jorge, in Portugal’s Azores archipelago, for over two weeks.

The island has been hit by practically 27,000 small tremors as of Tuesday and there are fears the exercise may herald a volcanic eruption for the primary time since 1808, or a strong earthquake.

“It is an enigma, a thriller,” mentioned seismologist Joao Fontiela, explaining a number of tremors had been widespread on different Azorean islands however not in Sao Jorge. “I nonetheless have not discovered a transparent reply.”

“Going from a really small variety of earthquakes to 1000’s is extraordinary,” he mentioned.

The volcanic alert is at Stage 4, which means there’s a “actual chance” the volcano may erupt. However when, the place on the island and if it can really occur are questions that stay unanswered, Fontiela mentioned.

Up to now, all of the recorded earthquakes have been of tectonic origin and never volcanic, reaching a magnitude of as much as 3.8. In the event that they develop into volcanic, it means magma is on the transfer.

The variety of day by day quakes has decreased in latest days however consultants usually are not positive if that development will proceed.

Floor deformation has already been detected, which is uncommon given the tremors’ tectonic origin and low magnitude, Fontiela mentioned.

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In response to Fontiela, the dearth of earlier research about Sao Jorge is making it tougher to grasp the phenomenon.

Geologist Jose Madeira mentioned it was not clear what sort of eruption may happen, including that earlier seismic occasions in Sao Jorge in 1580 and 1808 had been marked by lethal pyroclastic flows.

Volcanologists additionally control soil gases and earthquakes’ depth.

The Sao Jorge earthquakes are taking place at common depths of 8-12 kilometres. If a major quantity begin occurring nearer to floor, it’d point out an imminent eruption, mentioned Madeira.

Authorities have warned the state of affairs may drag for an undetermined period of time.