The island of Sao Jorge in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores off the Atlantic, shaken since Saturday by a series of small earthquakes, is currently on alert, according to authorities.
Since Saturday, "more than 1,300 earthquakes have been recorded" on this volcanic island, of which more than a hundred were felt by the population, according to a press release Wednesday from the Portuguese Meteorological Institute (IPMA).
The origin of this seismic activity, which has not caused any damage so far, “may be linked to a rise in magma”, specifies the institute.
The fear of a "major earthquake"
Luis Silveira, mayor of the municipality of Velas on the island, however, called on the population to calm down, telling the public channel RTP that there was “no reason to be alarmed at the moment”.
Sao Jorge, which has some 8,000 inhabitants, is one of the nine islands of the Azores archipelago, more than 1,600 kilometers from the Portuguese coast.
“We are facing a seismo-volcanic crisis” which raises fears of “a major earthquake” or “a volcanic eruption”, explained Rui Marques, president of the Azores Seismo-Volcanic Information and Monitoring Center (CIVISA) in the daily
According to him, volcanic eruptions have already occurred on the island in 1580 and 1808.
An earthquake in 1980
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said he was in constant contact with the president of the autonomous region of the Azores, José Manuel Boilero, in order to follow the evolution of the situation.
Portugal “makes available all the means of the Republic which would be necessary”, assured Antonio Costa on his Twitter account.
With nearly 54 km in length and 8 km in width, Sao Jorge forms a long volcanic mountain range which culminates at more than 1,000 meters.
It is part, with the islands of Pico and Faial, of the central triangle of the archipelago.
The Portuguese island is known for its "fajas", very fertile flat land areas, located at the foot of imposing cliffs, which jut out towards the ocean.
The last major earthquake in the Azores dates back to January 1, 1980. With a magnitude of 6.9, it killed 61 people and injured some 300, and destroyed thousands of houses in the archipelago.
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A fault ?