Capelinhos Eruption

In the early hours of September 27, 1957, as the earth started “swinging” incessantly, the watchmen at Costa do da Nau, just a few meters above Capelinhos lighthouse, noticed that the sea was rough half a mile off the coast, to the west. Frightened, they left the lighthouse and warned the lighthouse keepers and the whalers who were already at the port. This time it wasn’t a whale – the ocean was boiling and there was a foul smell. This is how Vítor Hugo Forjaz, Azorean volcanologist, described the beginning of the Capelinhos eruption.

From the human point of view, this amazing natural phenomenon completely changed people’s lives. Earthquakes rocked the island for over a year while the volcano expelled ash that buried farmed fields and destroyed homes under its weight. Families lost their possessions and their livelihoods. Thousands emigrated to the U.S. after then Senator John F. Kennedy authored legislation to welcome these environmental refugees.

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Capelinhos History

The island of Faial, one of the nine islands of Azores, was discovered in 1427.

Capelinhos Eruption

The eruption of an offshore volcano near Capelinhos, the western cape of Faial Island in the nine-island Azores archipelago in 1957 came to be a defining moment in the history of Portuguese immigration.

Capelinhos Lighthouse

The lighthouse is a former beacon/lighthouse located along the coastal peninsula of Ponta dos Capelinhos and Costa Nau in the civil parish of Capelo on the island of Faial in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.

Capelinhos Devastation

The eruption of the Capelinhos volcano on the Azores island of Faial in 1957 came to be a defining moment in the history of Portuguese immigration. Towns on the northern and western coasts were devastated by the volcano's eruption, which led to the immigration of 4,000 people to the United States.

Capelinhos Diaspora

The eruption of a submarine volcano near Capelinhos on the island of Faial in the Azores in 1957-58 was a time of difficulty, often fear, and led to the emigration of more than 130,000 people between 1957 and 1977.