Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
10 Jan 2006
10 Jan 2006

Seismic vulnerability of dwellings at Sete Cidades Volcano (S. Miguel Island, Azores)

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

Abstract. Since the settlement of S. Miguel Island (Azores), in the XV century, several earthquakes caused important human losses and severe damages on the island. Sete Cidades Volcano area, located in the westernmost part of the island, was attained by strong seismic crises of tectonic and volcanic origin and major events reached a maximum historical intensity of IX (European Macroseismic Scale 1998) in this zone.

Aiming to evaluate the impact of a future major earthquakes, a field survey was carried out in ten parishes of Ponta Delgada County, located on the flanks of Sete Cidades volcano and inside it is caldera. A total of 7019 buildings were identified, being 4351 recognized as dwellings. The total number of inhabitants in the studied area is 11429.

In this work, dwellings were classified according to their vulnerability to earthquakes (Classes A to F), using the structure types table of the EMS-98, adapted to the types of constructions made in the Azores. It was concluded that 76% (3306) of the houses belong to Class A, and 17% (740) to Class B, which are the classes of higher vulnerability.

If the area is affected by a seismic event with intensity IX it is estimated, that 57% (2480) to 77% (3350) of the dwellings will partially or totally collapse and 15% (652) to 25% (1088) will need to be rehabilitated. In this scenario, considering the average of inhabitants per house for each parish, 82% (9372) to 92% (10515) of the population will be affected. The number of deaths, injured and dislodged people will pose severe problems to the civil protection authorities and will cause social and economic disruption in the entire archipelago.