Monday, November 12, 2007

Paricutin Volcano

Paricutin Volcano, Mexico – A volcano from corn field

paricutin volcanoParicutin Volcano

Born on a Saturday evening (February 20, 1943) in a village by name Paricutin in Mexico; this volcano has the credit of being one of the youngest in the world. It was a fine Saturday evening; when Dionsio Pulido a Tara scan Indian (a native ethnic group of Mexico) went in to his corn field hearing an array of unusual sounds; for his horror what he saw was his farmland getting caved in and thunderous rumbling sounds coming out. Fumes with the foul odor (that of rotten eggs) emanating from the fissure. The poor Tara scan family did not foresee that a volcano was having its birth in their farmland. The enfant terrible swallowed not only Paricutin the village of its origin but the neighboring San Juan Parangarikutiro.

The youngest; but the fastest.

In one way Mr. Dionsio Pulido can sigh in relief; though he lost his farmland he can claim ownership of one of the Seven Wonders of the World; because this volcano was born in his farmland! Paricutin is located in the Michoacan State of Mexico. Since its birth in 1943 it grew fast and almost reached three fourth of its present size within one year of its inception.

Trans Mexican Volcanic Belt or Transversal.

paricutin volcanoMap of Paricutin Volcano

The birth of a volcano; taken place in a populated place; that too from within a cornfield was a very rare occurrence. This place known as the Trans Mexican Volcanic Belt (The ‘Transversal’ that passes across Southern Mexico in east-west direction) has the credit of owning more than 1400 volcanoes; many of them still active. Among these 1400 the Paricutin is the ‘fastest’ growing one in the pyroclastic (eruptive stage) itself it reached a height of 336 meters.

What is a volcano and how is it formed.

paricutin volcano1943 eruption

People for generations have feared, admired and worshiped volcanoes but only recently they were brought under scientific research and study. The core of the earth is made up of molten materials made up of different materials like silica, magnesium, sulfur etc remaining in high temperature and pressure. Volcanoes are mere outlets for the release of this pressure. Some weak area closer to the pressure zone will finally give way for the release and the magma flows out spewing lava and other contents. It may either burst or flow out; this process is determined by the temperature of the magma, gases dissolved in it etc. The lava cools of after contacting atmosphere and rocks are formed (such rocks are called igneous rocks), it is these deposits that accumulate and become the volcano. The Paricutin is a telling example and there are even eyewitness; still alive to tell the story.

Tierra Caliento terrain.

paricutin volcanoParicutin from Las Cabañas

The Paricutin is located about 200 miles from Mexico City in an elevation of 10,400 feet above sea level. It has at present a height of 1391 feet (424 meters) and occupies 10 sq km or area with solidified lava and another sq km with volcanic sand lying scattered all around. This volcano is in a climate region called Tierra Caliento which is about 3000 feet above sea level and known for its long hot summers and mild winters. Cactus forests, Tree Ferns, Mossy Orchids and other flowering plants are abundant in this region. Many species of snakes (most of them non poisonous) coyotes and mountain lions are also found in the area surrounding the volcano.

A research lab of a volcano.

paricutin volcanoCinder cone in 1943

As the origin of it was in a populated area scientists could watch every stages in the formation of a volcano and they could use all the modern devices to study the process in detail, perhaps the most significant aspect of the Paricutin Volcano is its birth and growth in the eyes of modern science. For scientists this is a ‘Cinder Cone’ (a cone shaped mount around a volcano) type volcano which is ‘monogenic’, meaning simply this ‘with a single vent’. Ever since it erupted initially and the second one in 1953 this volcano is growing up far faster than any of its peers. At present the solidified lava

The church bell-tower tells it all.

paricutin volcanoSan Juan Parangaricutiro Church

Paricutin has the credit of one of the most harmless volcano as its initial eruption even though it occurred in the middle of a village and it covered the entire village of Paricutin (it is in the name of this village the volcano is named) and adjoining village of San Juan for its birth. Its eruption was slow enough in the pace so that people could find a secure shelter some where; while the entire village was covered by the debris thrown out of the volcano (ejecta) a church bell tower still stands up above all telling its presence to the visitors. The latest eruption in 1952 no one was dead from the flow of lava that flowed 50 feet below its rim, but the lightening that occurred in volcanic clouds caused the death of three persons.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

needs more numbers and specific details like the magnitude ,volume stuff like that.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

the info needs more geographical details so that it is clearer to other ppl.
It's veryvague.

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