Flores

Flores Island  is an island of the Western group (Grupo Ocidental) of the Azores. It has an area of 143 km², a population of approximately 3907 inhabitants, and, together with the island of Corvo Island of the western archipelago, lies within the .   It is best recognized for its abundance of flowers, hence its Portuguese name of Flores.

The name of the island of Flores has been made familiar to generations of English readers by the quotation: “At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay…”, which is the opening line of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s epic poem, “The Revenge, A Ballad of the Fleet”.

Rocha dos Bordões, is an iconic symbol of Flores; it is a columnar basalt formation

Lagoa Comprida, one of several volcanic lakes located within the interior of the island

Flores, along with the island of Corvo, is situated on the American Continental Plate of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and belongs to the western group of islands in the Azores archipelago. Geomorphologically, the island is composed of two units:

  • The Central Massif – it is the central plain, where is located many maar structures with lake-filled craters adjacent lands;
  • The Coastal Periphery – it includes the coastal zones, cliffs and ancient beaches, as well as the coastal shelf.

The island developed initially from a submarine volcano from the Pleistocene period that constructed small calderas and numerous pyroclastic cones. Following a long period of quiescence beginning about 200,000 years ago, several young phreatomagmatic craters and associated lava flows erupted during the Holocene period, including two about 3000 years ago. The Funda de Lajes tuff ring formed about 3150 years ago, accompanied by a lava flow that traveled toward the southeast reach the area of Lajes. The Caldeira Comprida tuff ring in Caldeira Seca (west-central Flores) later, at about 2900 years ago, producing a lava flow that traveled towards the region of Fajã Grande.

Azevedo et al. (1986) divides the lavas and deposits into two major volcanic complexes:

  • Basal Volcanic Complex – includes products and deposits of both submarine and sub-aerial volcanism, formed by pyroclastic deposits and inter-bedded flows of alkali basalts.
  • Upper Volcanic Complex – represents the main sub-aerial activity composed of three main stratigraphic units, that include basaltic to trachytic flows with inter-bedded pyroclastic deposits in the first two layers, and a more recent unit of exclusively pyroclastic deposits.

During the summer, the island is covered with thousands of hydrangeas, which have large blue or pink flowers; this is the origin of the island’s name (Flores is the Portuguese word for flowers).

The island has deep valleys and high peaks; Pico do Burrinho is the highest place on the island, reaching an altitude of 915 meters, while Morro Alto, Sete Pés, Burrinha and Marcel are other peaks on the island. Flores has several inactive volcanoes; Caldeira Funda last erupted in 1200 BCE, and Caldeira Comprida in 950 BCE. In many situations where water collected in volcanic calderas (or caldeiras in Portuguese), lakes formed: there are seven of these lakes on the island. The Águas Quentes are small hot springs of boiling sulfurous water. The Gruta de Enxaréus is an enormous cavern, about 50 meters long and 25 meters wide.

Ecoregions/protected areas

By the sea in the municipality of Lajes das Flores is Fajãzinha, a typical Azorean village that includes ruins of water mills. There one can also find the waterfalls of Ribeira Grande, of which there are at least 20. They drop from a height of three hundred meters, some directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

On May 27, 2009, Flores was chosen as one of several areas to be included on UNESCO’s list of World Network of Biosphere Reserves at the Man and the Biosphere Programme meeting held in Jeju, South Korea, along with the islands of Graciosa and Corvo. The program targets the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss. It uses its World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for knowledge sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision-making with local communities.

On 13 October 2010, the Regional Secretary for Environment and Ocean (Portuguese: Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e Mar) declared that the Rocha dos Bordões would be given a regional monument designation as part of an overall plan of integrating the Flores Nature Park (Portuguese:Parque Natural da Ilha das Flores). The park is formed from the central plateau, descends in the northern coast and along the southern coast from Morro Alto, including the many lakes, ending at the Rocha dos Bordões. In the government’s decision, the regional secretary included an area “especially rich in peet and humid zone vegtation” and in the extreme, the geological formation of the Rocha dos Bordões.

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