GEOLOGY & FORMATION
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The Azores archipelago has been formed by the activity and dynamics of the mid Atlantic ridge running through the middle of the Atlantic from North to South. Tectonic plates have been constantly drifting apart since over millions of years, allowing liquid rock to rise from the inside of the earth and to build a subterranean mountain range. The highest peaks rise above sea level and become visible as islands.
Today, the tectonic activity on the islands is very low, you will find sulphit rising from the ground in the “fumaroles”, hot springs with relaxing thermal waters and small muddy volcanoes bubbling under the surface.
Every island has a caldera, a volcanic crater, which was once filled with hot magma and then collapsed once the activity dried out. The craters are up to a couple of kilometers wide and often you will find beautiful lakes at the bottom, which formed by rainwater building up at the bottom of the craters.
The last major eruption can be dated back to 1957/58, when an ongoing submarine eruption of the Vulcao dos Capelinhos on Faial added 2 square kilometers to the Western end of the island.
Due to its isolated location, the Azores are home to 56 rare plants, which cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Because of the high humidity, you will find more than 400 different mosses and a wide variety of ferns on the islands.
While a large part of the primary forests was cut down to make room for farmland, you will still find primary forests on the higher grounds of several islands, especially on Terceira and Pico, which is made of laurels, cedars, heaths and high blueberries.
Many of the plants found on the Azores today are actually not native and only arrived to the islands after their discovery in the late 15. century. Today, the plants are spread widely across the islands and the Azores are famous for their spring flower-age, when you can admire large hortensias, azaleas, hibiscus, roses and camellias.
Compared to the vast variety of plants and flowers, the wildlife on the Azores is less spectacular, which is mainly down to the secluded location of the island. Only flying things like birds, insects and bats are native to the Azores while mice, rats, hedgehogs or lizards arrived by ship. The variety of birds on the islands is quite interesting and vast, which has lately lead to an increasing interest in bird watching activities.
In the waters surrounding the islands, you will find plenty of species of fish and more than 20 species of whales and dolphins, making the Azores a great destination for whale and dolphin watching."
Geology & Nature