The multidisciplinary research described here shows how archaeologists can help reconstruct past seismic episodes and understand the subsequent relief operation, rehabilitation, and reconstruction processes. In October 1522, a major earthquake and landslide struck the then capital of the Azores, Vila Franca do Campo, 1500 km from the European mainland. Damage was extensive, destroying key monuments, affecting most of the inhabited area, and leaving few survivors among the early colonists. The results from twenty-six archaeological trenches, geological and geoarchaeological investigations, and documentary analysis are reviewed here. Distinctive archaeological deposits are identified and explained, using the high density of artefacts and the erosional contact between the landslide and the pre-1522 palaeosol to reconstruct the episode in detail.