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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 38.6°N
  • 28.73°W

  • 1043 m
    3421 ft

  • 382010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Fayal.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Fayal.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Fayal.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



1958 CE

1043 m / 3421 ft


Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)

Rock Types

Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Trachybasalt / Tephrite Basanite
Trachyte / Trachyandesite
Trachyandesite / Basaltic trachy-andesite

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

The island of Fayal, also spelled Faial, is the nearest of the central Azorean islands to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The island is composed of a complex large andesitic-to-trachytic stratovolcano that contains a 2-km-wide summit caldera. Thick deposits of trachytic airfall pumice, pyroclastic flows, and lahars related to formation of the caldera blanket the island. Formation of the steep-walled 500-m-deep caldera was followed by construction of fissure-fed basaltic lava fields and small volcanoes that form a peninsula extending to the west. This area is covered by the youngest volcanic products on the island and has been the source of all historical eruptions. A dramatic submarine eruption at Capelinhos during 1957-58, the best-studied of historical eruptions in the Azores, created a new island that soon merged with the western peninsula.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Cole P D, Guest J E, Duncan A M, Pacheco J-M, 2001. Capelinhos 1957-1958, Faial, Azores: deposits formed by an emergent surtseyan eruption. Bull Volc, 63: 204-220.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Katsui Y (ed), 1971. List of the World Active Volcanoes. Volc Soc Japan draft ms, (limited circulation), 160 p.

Machado F, 1982. Excursion guide for field trip V3, Islands of Fayal and Pico. Proc Internatl Symp Activity Oceanic Volc, Archipelago Univ Azores, 3: 343-349.

Neumann van Padang M, Richards A F, Machado F, Bravo T, Baker P E, Le Maitre R W, 1967. Atlantic Ocean. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 21: 1-128.

Waters A C, Fisher R V, 1971. Base surges and their deposits: Capelinhos and Taal volcanoes. J Geophys Res, 76: 5596-5614.

Zbyszewski G, Moitinho de Almeida F, Veiga Ferreira O da, Torre de Assuncao C, 1959. Geologic map of Faial (Azores). Servicos Geologicos Portugal, 1:25,000 scale map with 25 p text (in Portuguese).

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1957 Sep 27 1958 Oct 24 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations West flank (Capelinhos) and summit
1672 Apr 24 1673 Feb 28 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations West flank

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.




Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Canto, Cabeco do Cone 346 m
Capelinhos Cone
Carneiro, Monte Cone 267 m
Dos Trinta, Cabeco Cone 762 m
Fogo, Cabeco do Cone 570 m
Funda da Caldiera Cone 592 m
Guia, Monte de Tuff cone 145 m
Pacheco, Cabecos do Cone 582 m
Verde, Cabeco Cone 488 m


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Caldiera Caldera 1043 m 38° 35' 0" N 28° 43' 0" W


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Castelo Branco Dome


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Varadouro Thermal

Photo Gallery

A column of ash and steam towers above a new submarine vent off the western coast of Fayal Island in early October 1957. The vertical white bar (upper right) provides a 500 m scale. Horizontally traveling base surges form a ring at the base of the eruption column. Explosive eruptions began on September 27, and formed a small island that eventually was joined to the main island, partially burying the Capelinhos lighthouse, which is visible on the center shoreline. Lava effusion was continuous for the last five months of the 13-month-long eruption.

Photo by U.S. Air Force, 1957 (published in Green and Short, 1971).
Fayal volcano is capped by a 2-km-wide, 500-m-deep summit caldera, seen from its southern rim. A small pyroclastic cone was constructed on the floor of the caldera. Thick airfall-pumice and pyroclastic-flow deposits related to formation of the caldera blanket the island. This event was followed by construction of fissure-fed lava fields and small volcanoes that formed a peninsula extending to the west. A dramatic submarine eruption at Capelinhos during 1957-58 created a new island that soon merged with the western peninsula.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
The gentle slope along the right-hand horizon is covered by lava flows formed during the 17th century, at the time of the first historical eruption of Fayal volcano. Lava flows during the 1672-73 eruption reached the sea on both the southern and northern coasts. This eruption occurred along a WNW-ESE-trending ridge forming a wedge-shaped peninsula at the western tip of the island. Cabeço Verde (center), seen here from the SE, is one of a chain of pyroclastic cones that were constructed along the axis of the peninsula.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
The eroded pyroclastic cone at the left, now forming the western tip of Fayal Island, was constructed during the 1957-58 Capelinhos eruption. Initially submarine eruptions formed an island that was later joined to the mainland. By the end of the eruption, a 1-km-wide peninsula had been added to Fayal. Vigorous erosion by the sea soon truncated the sides of the new cone, forming the steep south-facing cliffs seen here. Beach erosion in the foreground exposes light-colored ashfall deposits from the 1957-58 eruption.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
Lava flows from vents along the crest of a linear chain of volcanoes, seen here from the NE, reached the sea along both the northern and southern coasts of Fayal Island during a 17th-century eruption. The 1672-73 lava flows reached the northern coast at the headlands immediately left and right of the center of the photo. Cabeço Verde (left center) and Cabeço do Canto (center) are two pyroclastic cones along a linear chain of volcanoes that form a wedge-shaped peninsula on the western tip of Fayal Island.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
The Monte de Guia tuff cone forms a backdrop to the harbor of Jorta (Horta), the largest town on the island of Fayal. The cone was formed by phreatomagmatic eruptions just off the SE tip of the island, and is now connected to Fayal by a low narrow peninsula. Monte de Guia is one of a cluster of cones constructed on the lower SE flank of Fayal. These cones lie at the far eastern end of a fissure system that extends from off the western coast across the flanks of the large Fayal stratovolcano.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
The crater of Monte de Guia tuff cone at the SE tip of Fayal Island has been breached by the sea, forming a circular bay. This view looks out to sea from the NW rim of the tuff cone, which was formed by phreatomagmatic eruptions produced when magma encountered sea water along the coast of the island. A small boat used by divers provides scale off the headland at left center.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
The vegetation-mantled NW wall of the 2-km-wide summit caldera of Fayal volcano rises 500-m above the caldera floor. A small pyroclastic cone constructed on the caldera floor is visible at the lower right. The outer flanks of the caldera are steepest on the NW and SW sides, which flank a wedge-shaped western peninsula that has been the site of all historical eruptions on Fayal.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
Pyroclastic-surge deposits from the 1957 Capelinhos eruption lap up against a lighthouse near the western coast of Fayal Island in the Azores. Pyroclastic surges produced by magma-water interaction during the submarine eruption nearly buried the lower floor of the lighthouse building. The initially submarine eruption began off the western tip of Fayal, forming a small island that eventually was joined to the main island.

Photo by R. V. Fisher, 1979 (University of California Santa Barbara).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 8 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 109363 Plagioclase basalt
NMNH 116691-13 Bomb
NMNH 116691-14 Bomb
NMNH 116691-16 Bomb
NMNH 117254-112 Lava
NMNH 72951 Basalt
NMNH 72952-1 Basalt
NMNH 72952-2 Basalt

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Fayal Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.