Pico do Fogo is the highest peak of Cape Verde, rising to 2,829 metres (9,281 ft) above sea level. It is an active stratovolcano lying on the island of Fogo. The main cone last erupted in 1675, causing mass emigration from the island, while a subsidiary vent erupted in 1995. The only deadly eruption was in 1847 when earthquakes generated in all the island claimed several lives. The mountain's slopes are used to grow coffee, while its lava is used as building material. Near its peak is a caldera and a small village, Chã das Caldeiras, is inside this caldera.
The eruption began on the night of 2-3 April, covering the island with a cloud of ash. Residents were evacuated from Chã das Caldeiras, as their homes were destroyed. A team of United States Geological Survey (USGS) volcanologists has been monitoring an eruption that began just after midnight on April 3 on Fogo. Frank Trusdell from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) and Richard Moore (former geologist on the staff of the HVO) from our Denver, Colorado office arrived in Fogo on April 10 in response to a request from the State Department.
Our Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, funded by U.S. AID and the USGS, provides assistance in volcanic crises or emergencies around the World. This report is based mainly on their daily communications from Fogo, and an earlier report on the eruption sent to the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Network by geologists J. Gaspar and N. Wallenstein from the University of the Azores. They were on Fogo when the eruption began.
Like Hawaii, Fogo is a "hot-spot" volcanic island. It last erupted in 1951. It is the youngest and most active volcano in the Cape Verde Islands. The Cape Verde Islands, a short chain of volcanic islands that generally are younger at the western end, formed as the African Plate moved towards the east over the hotspot in much the same way that the Hawaiian Ridge formed as the Pacific Plate moved west-northwestward over a hotspot.