Furnasses on Sao Miguel
The Azores are basically volcanoes that stick out of the Atlantic Ocean. The fact that these volcanoes haven't faded out yet, is proven at least by the eruption of the Capelinhos Volcano in 1957.
This panorama was shot on the Furnas Volcano on the island of Sao Miguel. This volcano had its last eruption 5,000 years ago, but it still shows activity in numerous forms. At many places in the area of Furnas you can smell clouds of sulfur and see natural boiling water and mud. The boiling water sends of big clouds of steam into the air, adding greatly to the spectacle.
The air and steam escaping the holes in the ground is rich on minerals and has a ground temperature of about 130 degrees Celsius. So stepping over the fences like I did is ill advised, especially if you wear open shoes. On weekend days the steam pits and the lake can get crowded with locals. The locals bury cooking pots around the steam pits for naturally cooked (and probably somewhat oddly flavored) food.
Directly next to the steam pits lies Lake Furnas, the serenity of which has much contrast to the "smells and sounds of hell" the steam pits produce.
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about 1,500 km (930 mi) west from Lisbon and about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. Its main industries are: agriculture, dairy farming (for cheese and butter products primarily), minor livestock ranching, fishing and tourism, which is becoming the major service activity in the region; added to which, the government of the Azores employs a large percentage of the population directly or indirectly in many aspects of the service and tertiary sectors.There are nine major Azorean islands and an islet cluster, in three main groups. These are Flores and Corvo, to the west; Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico and Faial in the centre; and São Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas Reef to the east. They extend for more than 600 km (370 mi) and lie in a northwest-southeast direction. The vast extent of the islands defines an immense exclusive economic zone of 1,100,000 km2 (420,000 sq mi). The westernmost point of this area is 3,380 km (2,100 mi) from the North American continent. All the islands have volcanic origins, although some, such as Santa Maria, have had no recorded activity since the islands were settled. Mount Pico, on the island of Pico, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft). The Azores are actually some of the tallest mountains on the planet, measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean to their peaks, which thrust high above the surface of the Atlantic.Because these once-uninhabited and remote islands were settled sporadically over a span of two centuries, their culture, dialect, cuisine and traditions vary considerably.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azores