National Geographic : 1958 Jun
A New Volcano Bursts from the Atlantic Miguel; a few months later it disappeared.* Colonel Agostinho, who directs the islands' meteorological service from an observatory on Terceira, 80 miles away, had seen Ilha Nova only from the air. But fortunately for science in this International Geophysical Year, two equally devoted Boswells have been on the spot to record the volcano's every shift of mood. Lightkeeper Pacheco has clung to his post despite earth tremors, flying bombs, and clouds of sulphurous gases that all too often invade his battered tower. He maintains a detailed diary of the volcano's doings and cranks up an antiquated field telephone every few hours to pass the news to worried officials in Horta across the island. Whenever the volcano puts on a particularly im pressive show, Pacheco's call sets a phone jangling in the home of public works administrator Frederico Machado. The patiently compiled charts and ob servations of skilled vol canologist Machado, which provided the basis for the drawings on page 738, may one day constitute the most detailed biography ever assembled of a volcano's birth and death. I asked Senhor Machado a question for which I really expected no answer. What was the future of Ilha Nova? "It will stop in one year, A homemade pro eruption's height. A perhaps," he said without rocks, earth tremors, hesitation, "based on what on as the Portugues we know of previous vol canoes in the Azores. "Of course," he added witl "it might have stopped since phone call. Or it may outlive Fortunately, the volcano' have not all landed on the d ledger. Most Fayalenses living miles away, remain apprehen, unaffected. A handful of Azo profited by its intercession. "Everybody wants to see the I've been to Capelinhos a tho leather-jacketed cabby boaste in the Cafe Sport (page 780). "Made enough escudos to buy a new taxi." Whaleman Francisco dos Santos, sitting in his accustomed chair by the door, came alive. "About a month after it started," he an nounced, "it helped us, too." Sulphurous Sea Makes Whales Easy Prey I offered him a drink of the sirupy anise beloved by these stout sea hunters. He drained the thimbleful with one quick gulp. "We chased a pod of sperm whales that day," he said, "five launches and eight boats of us. The volcano was very strong and the wind blew the cloud over us. Black rain fell tractor helps Tomaz Pacheco da Rosa estimate the .n assistant lighthouse keeper at Capelinhos until flying ,and sulphurous gases closed the beacon, he has stayed Government's official observer. and we could smell the sulphur. The sea h a quick smile, turned green as soup. SPacheco's last "Those whales, they went into that bad us all." water and we went after them. They lay like s contributions dead, too sick to run away. ebit side of the "We kill until we got no more harpoons." g near Horta, 12 He smiled happily at the memory. "Boats sive but largely come from Pico and Sao Jorge and they kill. rians have even * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "The Explosive Birth of Myojin Island," by Robert vulcdo. I guess S. Dietz, January, 1954; "Riddle of the Aleutians," usand times," a by Isobel Wylie Hutchison, December, 1942; and S"Falcon, the Pacific's Newest Island," by J. Edward d one afternoon Hoffmeister and Harry S. Ladd, December, 1928.