Wonders of the World
Mexico;19.48 N 102.25 W;3,170
m elevation This slide shows the
cinder cone soon after its birth
in 1943 in a Mexican cornfield.
During its brief nine-year lifespan
(1943-1952), it built a 410-meter-high
cone with extensive lava fields
around the base of the cone. Most
of the 2 km3 of eruptive products
(ash, cinders, and lava) were
produced in the first few years.
Cinder cones such as this one
are commonly formed by one eruption.
Each subsequent eruption in the
same area forms its own cinder
cone in 1943
Volcán de Parícutin,
also accented Paricutín by
locals, to more closely match the
pronunciation of the native Purepecha
name Parhicutini, or spelled unaccented
as Paricutin) is a cinder cone volcano
in the Mexican state of Michoacán,
close to a lava-covered village of
the same name. It appears on many
versions of the Seven Natural Wonders
of the World. Paricutín is
part the Michoacán-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 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 erupting, although
this was dominated by relatively quiet
eruptions of lava that would scorch
the surrounding 25 km² (9.65
mi²) of land. The volcano'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.
Volcanism is a common
part of the Mexican landscape. Parícutin
is merely the youngest of more than
1,400 volcanic vents that exist in
the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and
North America. The volcano is unique
in the fact that its formation was
witnessed from its very conception.
Three people died as a result of lightning
strikes caused by the eruptions, but
no deaths were attributed to the lava
Shots of the volcano
during its active phase were included
in 20th Century Fox's film Captain
from Castile, released in 1947.