The Pico volcano
Mount Pico (Portuguese: Montanha do Pico) is a stratovolcano located on Pico Island, in the mid-Atlantic archipelago of the Azores. It is the highest mountain of Portugal, at 2,351 meters (7,713 ft) above sea level, and is one of the highest Atlantic mountains; it is more than twice the elevation of any other peak in the Azores.
Historical eruptions of Pico have occurred from vents on its flanks rather than the summit crater. In 1562–64, an eruption on the southeast flank produced lava flows which reached the sea. Another flank eruption in 1718 also produced flows which reached the coast. The most recent eruption occurred in December 1718.
On 29 September 2009 there were reports from local news sources that indicated that a fumarole existing at the pinnacle of the mountain (Piquinho) began emitting volcanic gas. The region's seismic and volcano logical monitoring center (Portuguese: CIVISA Centro de Informação e Vigilância Sismovulcânica dos Açores) indicated that the phenomenon occurred in the early morning, turning intense and visible in various points throughout the island and from Faial. Although the event resulted from exceptional meteorological conditions and was visible in the Central Group, there was no liberation of anomalous volcanic gases and all other parameters fell within norms.
On top of Pico (at Piquinho) there is an area of permanent degasification characterized by the emission of water vapour at a temperature of between 50 C to 75 C. In addition, other vents also exist between 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) and 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) above sea level, as well as diffuse degasification along the graben between the Lagoa do Capitão and Topo faults. There is also a carbon dioxide-rich spring in the locality of Silveira (along the southern coast of Lajes do Pico, formed in the base of Pico.
Hiking trails are available and the ascent to the summit can be made in around two to four hours from the trailhead for fit persons depending on weather which can be quite treacherous especially in winter months.
Photo credits: Duarte Granadeiro.
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