The nine islands of the Azorean archipelago lie nearly equidistant from North America and Europe, at the intersection of three separate tectonic plates. These islands first appeared on European maps as early as 1351 and were periodically explored and later claimed by Portuguese sailors into the early 15th century with the first settlement established in 1450. The islands could support isolated populations because of their unique geography and geochemistry as volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Students enrolled in chemistry courses visit sites of interest unique to the Azores. We explore how geochemical forces such as tectonic and volcanic activity have led to the distinctive landscapes, agricultural production systems, and cultural expressions seen in the Azores.
Some areas we may visit include:
- Sete Cidades: This volcanic area is home to twin lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul, which formed after a massive volcanic eruption. While the two lakes are connected, the different chemical and geologic deposits lead to two distinct colors of the lakes.
- Chá Gorreana: The Azores have the only tea plantation in Europe due to the soil from millions of years of tectonic and volcanic activity. The plantation runs right to the black sand beaches of the Azores.
- Furnas: The Azorean hot springs at Furnas are steaming vents in which the locals congregate every day to cook cozinho, an Azorean stew. The area is also home to pure sulfur deposits.
- Instituto de Investigação em Vulcanologia of the University of Azores. This institute tells the past, present, and future story of this tectonic archipelago.
Whether enrolled for general education or advanced credit, students have an
experience of a lifetime only a four-hour plane ride from Boston.