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Madeira Island is the emergent top of a massive shield volcano that rises about 6 km from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and forms the largest island of the Madeira Archipelago, about 90 km in length. Construction of the volcano along E-W-trending rift zones from the Miocene to about 700,000 years ago was followed by a period of extensive erosion and possible edifice collapse. Two steep-walled amphitheaters open to south in the central part of the island. Late-stage eruptions are scattered throughout the island and lasted until the Holocene, producing scoria cones and intracanyon lava flows mantling rocks of the older eroded edifice. The youngest activity at Madeira lies in the west-central part of the island, and consists of cinder cones in the upper Sao Vicente valley, a series of intracanyon flows, and a tephra layer on top of the Paul da Serra plateau dated at about 6500 years ago.
Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).
|Start Date||Stop Date||Eruption Certainty||VEI||Evidence||Activity Area or Unit|
|4500 BCE ± 50 years||Unknown||Confirmed||Radiocarbon (corrected)||Paul da Serra|
|Feature Name||Feature Type||Elevation||Latitude||Longitude|
|Ruivo, Pico||Pyroclastic cone||1862 m|
|The 90-km-long island of Madeira is seen in this NASA Landsat image (with north to the top). Construction of the volcano along E-W-trending rift zones was followed by a period of extensive erosion and possible edifice collapse. The capital city of Funchal lies along the SE coast, east of a large caldera that extends to the southern coast. Late-stage eruptions were scattered throughout the island, although the youngest activity took place along the west-central crest of the island, on the Paul da Serra plateau near the cloud near the center of this image.
NASA Landsat7 image (worldwind.arc.nasa.gov)
|The rugged summit of Pico Ruvio forms the 1862-m high point of the island of Madeira and is a popular destination for hikers. This eroded scoria-cone complex was erupted during a late stage of Pliocene-to-Pleistocene rift activity along the axis of the Madeira rift. Dense swarms of dikes, some of which are visible in this image, are oriented E-W, parallel to the orientation of the rift.
Photo by Paul Bernhardt.
|Funchal, the capital city of Madeira, blankets the SE flanks of the massive shield volcano forming the island. The scenic island, sometimes known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, is the emergent summit of a volcano constructed along an East-West trending rift zone. Following a period of extensive erosion, renewed eruptions produced cinder cones and lava flows that traveled down dissected valleys.
Photo by Paul Bernhardt.
Geldmacher J, Hoernle K A, 2000. The 72 Ma geochemical evolution of the Maderia hotspot (eastern North Atlantic): recycling of Paleozoic (500 Ma) oceanic lithosphere. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 183: 73-92.
Geldmacher J, van den Bogaard P, Hoernle K, Schmincke H-U, 2000. The 40Ar/39Ar age dating of the Madeira Archipelago and hotspot track (eastern North Atlantic). Geochem Geophys Geosyst, 1: 1999GC00018.
IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..
Klugel A, Walter T R, Schwarz S, Geldmacher J, 2005. Gravitational spreading causes en-echelon diking along a rift zone of Madeira Archipelago: an experimental approach and implications for magma transport. Bull Volc: 68: 37-46.
Mitchell-Thome R C, 1976. Geology of the Middle Atlantic Islands. Berlin: Gebruder Borntraeger, 382 p.
Schwarz S, Klugel A, van den Bogaard P, Geldmacher J, 2005. Internal structure and evolution of a volcanic rift system in the eastern North Atlantic: the Desertas rift zone, Madeira archipelago. J Volc Geotherm Res, 141: 123-135.