Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Paricutin Volcano

Paricutin is a cinder cone volcano in the Mexican state of Michoacan. It lies close to a lava-covered village of the same name. Paricutin is part of the Michoacan-Guanajuato Volcanic Field, which covers much of west central Mexico. The volcano began as a fissure in a cornfield owned by a P'urhépecha farmer, Dionisio Pulido on February 20, 1943. Pulido, his wife, and their son all witnessed the initial eruption of ash and stones first-hand as they plowed the field.

The Paricutin cinder cone volcano grew quickly, reaching five stories tall in just a week, and it could be seen from afar in a month. Much of the volcano's growth occurred during its first year, while it was still in the explosive pyroclastic phase. Nearby villages Paricutín (after which the volcano was named) and San Juan Parangaricutiro were both buried in lava and ash; the residents relocated to vacant land nearby. At the end of this phase, after roughly one year, the volcano had grown 336 meters (1,102.36 ft) tall. For the next eight years the volcano would continue to erupt, although this was dominated by relatively quiet eruptions of lava that would scorch the surrounding 25 km² (9.65 mi²) of land.

Paricutin's activity would slowly decline during this period until the last six months of the eruption, during which violent and explosive activity was frequent. In 1952 the eruption ended and Parícutin went quiet, attaining a final height of 424 meters (1,391.08 ft) above the cornfield from which it was born. The volcano has been quiet since. Like most cinder cones, Parícutin is a monogenetic volcano, which means that it will never erupt again. Any new eruptions in a monogenetic volcanic field erupt in a new random location.