Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
01 Mar 2005
01 Mar 2005

Evaluation of landslide susceptibility of Sete Cidades Volcano (S. Miguel Island, Azores)

A. Gomes, J. L. Gaspar, C. Goulart, and G. Queiroz

Abstract. Sete Cidades is an active central volcano with a summit caldera located in the westernmost part of S. Miguel Island (Azores). Since the settlement of the Island, in the 15th century, many landslide events occurred in this volcano, causing extensive damages in buildings and infrastructures. The study of historical records and the observation of new occurrences showed that landslides in the region have been triggered by heavy rainfall periods, earthquakes and erosion.

In order to assess landslide susceptibility at Sete Cidades Volcano, landslide scars and associated deposits were mapped through aerial photographs and field surveys. The obtained data were inserted in a GIS to produce a landslide distribution map. It was concluded that the high density landslide areas are related with (1) major scarp faults, (2) the margin of fluvial channels, (3) the sea cliffs and (4) volcanic landforms, namely the caldera wall. About 73% of the mapped events took place in areas where pyroclastic deposits are the dominant lithology and more than 77% occurred where slopes are equal or higher than 20°. These two parameters were integrated and used to generate a preliminary susceptibility map.

The incorporation of vulnerability data into the GIS allowed concluding that 30% of dwellings and most of the roads on Sete Cidades Volcano are located in areas where landslide susceptibility is high to very high. Such conclusion should be taken into account for emergency and land use planning.