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MOST OUTSTANDING VOLCANIC CAVES OF AZORES ISLANDS AS POTENTIAL GEOSITES OF THE “AZORES GEOPARK”
http://www.globalgeopark.org Source:AZORES GEOPARK  28-09-2008

M.P. Costa 1,2, J.C. Nunes 2,3, E.A. Lima 3, A.M. Porteiro 1, J. P. Constância 2, F. Pereira 2,4, P. Barcelos 2 & P.A.V. Borges 2,4
1 Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar – Rua Cônsul Dabney, Colónia Alemã, Apartado 140, 9900-014 Horta
2 GESPEA (Grupo para o Estudo do Património Espeleológico dos Açores)
3 Universidade dos Açores, Departamento de Geociências – Apartado 1422, 9500-801 Ponta Delgada
4 Universidade dos Açores, Departamento de Ciências Agrárias – Terra Chã, 9700 Angra do Heroismo
manuel.ps.costa@azores.gov.pt
; jcnunes@uac.pt; joao.pa.constancia@azores.gov.pt; fpereira@uac.pt; paulo_barcelos@sapo.pt; pborges@uac.pt; andrea.mm.porteiro@azores.gov.pt: evalima@uac.pt


Abstract

The impressive geodiversity of Azores archipelago and the high value (or relevance) of the sites that it includes justifies the proposal of the “Azores Geopark”, which is being prepared by the Azores Government, to present it to UNESCO and to propose their integration on the European and Global Geoparks Networks.

Given the archipelagic nature of the Region, it is proposed that the Azores Geopark includes a set of areas, well studied and delimited, spread all over the nine islands of the archipelago and neighboring seafloor. These areas are considered to be representative of the Azorean geodiversity and are selected among a broader group of sites taking into account the value of the geosites, trough a process of evaluation, on a quantification basis.

The ongoing Azores Geopark proposal includes 30 volcanic caves of Rank A (Table 1) among the 271 caves of the IPEA database, that were sorted (e.g. Rank A, B, C and D) in accordance to their importance in terms of scientific, singularity and beauty and integrity attributes. The ranking of Azorean caves is among the several contributions by “GESPEA”, the Working Group on Volcanic Caves of Azores, and is one of the functions of “IPEA”, the Azorean Speleological Inventory and Classifying System database.

This database incorporates six major classification issues (e.g. scientific value, potential for tourism, access, surrounding threats, available information and conservation status) and each classification comprises five classes (I to V) where the volcanic caves are sorted as a result of a weight calculation based on nine criteria: biologic component, geologic features, accessibility, singularity and beauty, safety, caving progress, threats, integrity and available information.

Table 1. Azores Volcanic Caves of Rank A

Volcanic Cave

Island

Furna do Enxofre

Graciosa

Algar/Gruta do Alto do Morais

Pico

Algar/Gruta do Canto da Serra

Pico

Furna das Cabras II

Pico

Furna de Henrique Maciel

Pico

Furna do Frei Matias

Pico

Furna Nova II

Pico

Gruta da Ribeira do Fundo

Pico

Gruta das Canárias

Pico

Gruta das Torres

Pico

Gruta do Cão

Pico

Gruta do Mistério da Silveira I

Pico

Gruta do Soldão

Pico

Gruta dos Azevinhos

Pico

Gruta dos Montanheiros

Pico

Gruta dos Túmulos

Pico

Furna Vermelha

Pico

Gruta do Salazar

Pico

Algar das Bocas do Fogo

S. Jorge

Gruta da Rua do Paim

São Miguel

Gruta de Água de Pau

São Miguel

Algar do Carvão

Terceira

Galeria da Queimada

Terceira

Gruta da Madre de Deus

Terceira

Gruta da Malha

Terceira

Gruta das Agulhas

Terceira

Gruta do Caldeira

Terceira

Gruta do Chocolate

Terceira

Gruta do Natal

Terceira

Gruta dos Balcões

Terceira





 
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