Recent seismic activity in the Atlantic Ocean fears a developing volcanic eruption

Unusual seismic signals rumbling across the Azores islands in the North Atlantic Ocean could indicate the start of a new volcanic eruption. The island of Sao Jorge, one of the nine islands of the Azores, has been affected by more than 1,100 earthquakes.

With the possibility of a volcanic explosion, the mayor of Velas, Luis Silveira, who oversees most of the population of Sao Jorge, launched an emergency plan.

(Photo: Pixabay)

Recent activities

On Sunday, the regional civil protection organization said it had contacted the island’s mayors and fire departments to urge them to “stay alert” and help Sao Jorge residents in the event of a volcanic eruption.

Scientists are drawing parallels between this earthquake swarm and a sudden earthquake swarm that occurred last year on the Spanish island of La Palma, located about 870 miles southeast of the Azores. this swarm was followed by a destructive volcanic eruption that lasted much of the past year, covering a large area of ​​lava and/or volcanic ash and ash.

While there are concerns that a deadly volcano will erupt soon, there are also fears that an Atlantic-wide tsunami could occur; however, the USGS and other publications are quick to point out that this is unlikely to happen.

Also Read: After Sudden Eruption in 2021, Caribbean Volcano’s Alert Level Changed by Experts

Sao Jorge Island

The island of Sao Jorge, located in the Azores, is just 33 miles long and less than 4 miles wide, with an estimated population of 8,100 people. Volcanic fissure eruptions began in the eastern half of the island and built up the island. The western two-thirds of the island are younger, produced by fissure-fed lava flows. In 1580, lava erupted from three places above the south-central coast, resulting in flows that reached the sea.

The 1580 eruption took the lives of ten people. After the 1580 eruption, five other major eruptions occurred, culminating in a historic explosion on May 1, 1808. Suffocating fumes and carboxylic acid were released from a vent along the Manadas ridge that day there, and thick greenish wispy clouds of chloric and sulfuric acids were reported to spread rapidly throughout the island’s flora, destroying everything.

Several severe earthquakes were recorded hourly throughout this eruption episode, causing considerable terror among the islanders. Many homes, structures, and cultivable fields were destroyed due to the earthquakes and subsequent volcanic activity. The death toll from the 1808 eruption was quite modest, with only eight deaths documented.

Underwater volcanic vents occurred near the coast of the island in the early 1900s, but no lava has poured onto the island since the volcanic eruption of 1808.

CIVISA, the civil defense organization tasked with monitoring seismic activity in the region, said it plans to deploy more equipment to detect signals of volcanic activity. This swarm is likely caused by the movement of magma below the surface, indicating that a volcanic eruption could occur in the days or weeks to come.

earthquake swarm

A swarm of earthquakes occurred on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands in September 2021, and an eruption followed two days later. This large-scale eruption raised fears that volcanic activity could lead to disaster on the United States coast.

Some have speculated that a large landslide caused by a volcanic eruption could result in a colossal mega wave sweeping across the Atlantic.

mega tsunami

A “mega tsunami” is a massive wave caused by a large and unexpected movement of material in a body of water. An ordinary tsunami caused by a major earthquake can be up to 100 feet high, but a mega-tsunami can be hundreds of feet or even thousands of feet high.

While typical tsunamis are caused by underwater earthquakes that cause the seabed to rise or fall, displacing water, a mega-tsunami occurs when a massive amount of material suddenly falls into the water ; this could be caused by a large meteor impact or a large major meteor landslide, especially on volcanic islands.

Because a mega-tsunami is so large, it can reach tens of kilometers inland or beyond in minutes. In 2000, a BBC docudrama series called “End Day” popularized the concept of a Canary Islands mega-tsunami, depicting water pouring all the way to the United States.

The storm wreaked havoc on the East Coast, destroying virtually everything in its path, even inland. The Next Mega Tsunami: Killer Waves, a NatGeo TV documentary, discussed the potential for large seismic events causing huge waves over the oceans.

Comparison with previous studies

In a research report published in 2001, Steven N. Ward and Simon Day argued that a change in the eruptive activity of the erupting volcano and a crack on the volcano that originated during an eruption in 1949 could be the harbingers of a huge meltdown.

They calculated that a collapse of this magnitude would generate tsunamis over the North Atlantic Ocean, wreaking havoc in the United States and Canada.

However, a recent study questioned whether the tsunami would still be significant far from La Palma. The height of the tsunami wave would decrease rapidly away from the source, and interactions with the continental shelf would further limit its magnitude.

According to some data, most collapses in the Canary Islands were multi-stage events that were less successful in causing tsunamis. A multi-stage collapse at La Palma would also result in weaker tsunamis. The USGS published papers in October highlighting how unlikely a mega-tsunami from volcanic activity in the Canary Islands is, and the same is likely true for an eruption in the Azores.

For now, experts will continue to monitor seismic activity in the Azores for any signals of an impending volcanic eruption. The 214-year period without volcanic activity on the island could end.

Related Article: Aseismic Creep Surfaces Shaking Discovery in California Fault

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