Picos Volcanic System

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 37.78°N
  • 25.67°W

  • 350 m
    1148 ft

  • 382081
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Picos Volcanic System.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Picos Volcanic System.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Picos Volcanic System.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



1652 CE

350 m / 1148 ft


Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)

Rock Types

Trachybasalt / Tephrite Basanite
Trachyte / Trachyandesite

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)


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

Geological Summary

Nearly 200 scoria cones of the Picos volcanic system dot the "waist" of Sao Miguel Island between Sete Cidades and Agua de Pau volcanoes. This monogenetic fissure-controlled, dominantly basaltic volcanism, much of which post-dates the roughly 5000-year-old Fogo eruption, cannot be assigned to either volcano and appears related to en-echelon fissures overlying a fracture zone. Thick pumice deposits thought to originate from the Picos volcanic system may have originated from vents or a caldera destroyed and now buried by young basaltic volcanism. The most noteworthy of the young vents is 485-m-high Serra Gorda, SE of Siete Cidades, and the cone that produced a lava delta south of Agua de Paul village. The majority of the inhabitants of Sao Miguel Island occupy both coasts below this volcanic zone. At least 18 eruptions have occurred during the past 2800 years, although the only historical eruption occurred in 1652. The most recent activity has been basaltic, however two more-explosive trachytic eruptions occurred during the past 1100 years.


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

Booth B, Croasdale R, Walker G P L, 1978. A quantitative study of five thousand years of volcanism on Sao Miguel, Azores. Phil Trans Roy Soc London, Ser A, 288: 271-319.

Martins J A, 1982. Excursion guide for field trip V1, Island of Sao Miguel. Proc Internatl Symp Activity Oceanic Volc, Archipelago Univ Azores, 3: 315-328.

Moore R B, 1990. Volcanic geology and eruption frequency, Sao Miguel, Azores. Bull Volc, 52: 602-614.

Moore R B, 1991. Geologic map of Sao Miguel, Azores. U S Geol Surv Map, I-2007.

Solgevik H, Mattsson H B, Hermelin O, 2007. Growth of an emergent tuff cone: fragmentation and depositional processes recorded in the Capelas tuff cone, Sao Miguel, Azores. J Volc Geotherm Res, 159: 246-266.

Zbyszewski G, Moitinho de Almeida F, Veiga Ferreira O da, Torre de Assuncao C, 1958. Geologic map of Sao Miguel (Azores). Servicos Geologicos Portugal, two 1:50,000 scale maps with 22 and 37 p texts (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
1652 Oct 19 1652 Oct 26 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Eastern part (SW of Fogo 1 cone)
0940 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Eastern part (Mata des Feiticeiras)
0850 ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) East-central part (Cruz)
0600 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) East-central part (Caldeirao)
0510 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) North-central part (Furna)
0850 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) North-central part (Aflitos)
4040 BCE (?) Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected)

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
Aflitos Cone
Cambado, Pico do Cone
Casteihano, Pico do Cone 260 m 37° 46' 0" N 25° 34' 0" W
Cova, Pico do Cone 305 m 37° 47' 0" N 25° 34' 0" W
Cruz, Pico do Cone 387 m 37° 47' 0" N 25° 37' 0" W
Dr. Ferreira, Pico Cone 321 m 37° 47' 0" N 57° 35' 0" W
Furna Cone
Grande, Pico Cone 376 m 37° 48' 0" N 25° 39' 0" W
Mata das Feiticeiras Cone 265 m 37° 46' 0" N 25° 34' 0" W
Muta do Leal Cone 37° 47' 0" N 25° 38' 0" W
Rosto de Cao Tuff cone
Serra Gorda Cone 485 m 37° 47' 0" N 25° 41' 0" W


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Caldeira Crater
Capelas Crater - Cone

Photo Gallery

A chain of fissure-fed scoria cones known as the Picos volcanic system dotting the "waist" of Sao Miguel Island between Sete Cidades and Agua de Pau volcanoes is seen here from the east below the Agua de Pau (Lagoa do Fogo) caldera. The densely populated southern coast of Sao Miguel appears in the background. At least 18 eruptions have occurred during the past 2800 years, although the only historical eruption took place in 1652 from a vent along the axis of the island.

Copyrighted photo by Marco Fulle, 2000 (Stromboli On-Line, http://stromboli.net).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

There are no samples for Picos Volcanic System in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Picos Volcanic System 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.