The eruption of Paricutin marked the annals of volcanology, as the first to be observed during its complete cycle by scientists. In addition to the notes and paintings of Dr. Atl, the most recent description of this now classic eruption is in the book of Jim Luhr and Tom simkin (Smithsonian institution) "Paricutin, the volcano born in a Mexican cornfield". This slag cone is one of the most recent volcanoes on the planet, with Surtsey (born in 1963) and Ardoukoba (born in 1978).
On February 20, 1943, Dionisio Pulido and his wife Paula, farmers, are busy burning branches of shrubs on their fields, when they see a crack deep of 50 cm, 5 cm wide. over fifty meters in length.
He tells it this way: "At about four o'clock, I am busy setting the branches on fire, when I feel a thunderclap, the trees tremble and I turn to talk to my wife, then I see, in the hole, the earth bend down and be projected at a height of 2 to 2.5 meters, and a kind of smoke or gray dust, like ash, come out of a part of the crevasse that I did not have insight so far ... .. more smoke starts to come out, accompanied by a whistling, beating and continuous, and a smell of sulfur ".
After a first moment of panic, as he says: "I do not see my wife, my son or my animals ... I look in the crack where the smoke comes out and my fear disappears for the first time to try to save my family, my companions, and my oxen, but I do not see anyone and I think they must have brought the animals to the spring, but I do not see any more water in it ... and I think that the water must be gone because of the crack, I am really frightened, and I get on my horse to gallop to Paricutin, where I find my wife, my son and my friends who are waiting for me, they feared my death and thought he would never see me again. "
Three weeks before the eruption, the local population had been marked by rumblings resembling thunder, while the sky was clear ... sounds associated with earthquakes deep under the future Paricutin.
Strombolian activity produces in 24 hours a cone of slag 50 meters high; in one week, it reached 100 meters under the accumulation of bombs and lapilli, and fine dust fell on the village of Paricutin. In March, the eruption gains in power, generating a plume of several kilometers in height. Occasionally, the activity becomes vulcanian, with explosions in "gunfire" separated by short periods of silence. On June 12, a lava tongue moves towards the village of Paricutin and the population evacuates the next day. The village of San Juan Parangaricutiro is evacuated a few months later.
The Taqui lava flow begins on January 8, 1944, at the southwestern base of the volcano, at the Nueva Juatita lateral mouth. In April, lava tongues threaten San Juan and invade it on June 17 ... in July, the church is surrounded by lava. At the beginning of August 1944, when the casting stopped, she reached a length of 10 km. and only the towers of the San Juan church protrude from a sea of lava.
Sequential profile showing the progressive growth of Paricutin - in red, the profiles of the first year of activity - the dotted line shows the profile before the collapse of 09.06.1943- Note the position of the Sapichu parasite cone on the left - Doc. Luhr and Simkin 1993.
At the end of this first phase which lasted about a year, the volcano reached the height of 336 meters. The Paricutin eruption was particularly long for a monogenic strombolian eruption, with several eruptive phases covering a total of nine years. The pyroclastic phase lasted over two years, before moving to a more effusive phase characterized by the exit of the lava at the base of the cone.
Volcanic activity declines slowly, until the last six months, marked by violent explosions. It stops in 1952, having covered 25 km² with lava. The cone now rises to 424 meters above the corn fields.
The lava emitted by Paricutín is typical of the calc-alkaline volcanism of a continental volcanic arc with granitic crustal contamination giving basaltic to andesitic lavas.
The eruption of Paricutin is classified by VEI 4 by the GVP, which mentions a volume of lavas emitted of 700 Mm³ and tephra of 1300 Mm³.
- Global Volcanism Program - Michoacan-Guanajuato
- Paricutin - The volcano born in a Mexican cornfield - F.Luhr & T.Simkin
- List of volcanic structures of the Michoacan-Guanajuato volcanic field - link
- El Paricutin - Una de las Doce Maravillas Naturales del Mundo byPedro Corona Chávez, Universidad michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo Instituto de Investigaciones Metalúrgicas, Departamento de Geología.
Smithsonian scientist William Foshag spent more than two years on site studying its growth, and he took many photos and video in the process.