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Brief Description of the Paricutín Volcano

The Paricutín volcano is the one of youngest on Earth and belongs to the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. It is situated in the central part of Mexico in the state of Michoacan, 322 km from Mexico City. The eruption occurred from 1943 to 1952 in the Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field (Larrea et al., 2017). Paricutín is notable for the fact that scientists rarely manage to capture the formation of a new volcano and the full cycle of its eruption (Larrea et al., 2017).

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Such volcanoes are known as monogenetic and when erupting, they emit small amounts of magma over a period of several days to several years. The area which includes the volcano is the largest monogenetic field on Earth, with over a thousand erupting centers (Larrea et al., 2017). The formation and development of the Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field remains poorly studied, as relatively few eruptions have been recorded.

The first attempts to measure the mass of solids erupted by Paricutín were made in 1950. However, recent studies offer more accurate and consistent data. Thus, the total volume of the volcano’s magma was estimated at approximately 1.3 cubic kilometers (Larrea et al., 2017). dense rock equivalent (DRE) volume of lavas and tephra offers a uniform density of 2.6 and 2.7 cubic centimeters respectively (Larrea et al., 2017). The total amount of erupted lava is estimated at 1,764 cubic kilometers (Larrea et al., 2017). An exponential decrease in the rate of effusion was also recorded, which indicates the absence of a magma chamber.

The eruption of the volcano belongs to the Strombolian type, as more viscous magma is ejected from the vent, forming streams of different strength. The eruption that began on February 20, 1943 was preceded by several days of seismicity. During the first weeks, low-magnitude pyroclastic activity formed a cinder cone. The ejection of lava flows began immediately after the onset of activity and varied in duration.

From March to June 1943, the eruption was explosive, with small ash deposits and large eruptive columns. Subsequently, various phases took place, including the construction of the main cone and the opening of a new effusive opening, with which the activity of the main cone ceased. During these stages, the lava flows contained an assortment of crustal xenoliths. Further, the formation of vents to the south and east of the main cone began, accompanied by Strombolian eruptions. From 1945 to 1952, activity was irregular with intermittent lava flows. On February 25, 1952, the eruption ceased, completing a nine-year process.

The volcano’s magma type is basaltic-andesite with a change in composition at later stages. During the eruption and with the change of stages, the composition of the magma changed due to the assimilation of intervening granite rocks. About 80% of the Paricutín magma is basaltic andesite “with 2–3% phenocrystic olivine and microphenocrysts (and microlites) of plagioclase, olivine, orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene” (Erlund et al., 2009, p. 170). However, in 1947 the composition of the magma changed from basaltic andesite to andesite (Erlund et al., 2009). Thus, Paricutín magma is of medium density and normal alkalinity.

Paricutín, like most of the monogenetic volcanoes, belongs to the scoria cones type. Monogenetic volcanoes represent the dominant group not only on Earth, but also in the solar system (Tchamabé et al., 2016). They are formed by a fast-flowing eruption over a brief period of time. Eruptions are fueled by any type of magma; small-volume volcanoes produced are localized in low-lying volcanic fields (Tchamabé et al., 2016). Scoria cones are also the dominant type of monogenetic volcano. They are small in size and can range from basaltic to andesitic (Kereszturi & Németh, 2016). Their formation occurs as a result of explosive eruptions caused by gas bubbles. Despite their small size, their eruptions can consist of several types.

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Paricutín is currently considered an extinct volcano, which means it is no longer active and will not be active in the future. Since the volcano belongs to the monogenetic type, the likelihood of a re-eruption is extremely small. Scoria cones are the most common type in Mexico, and they rapidly erupt into a cone-shaped mountain, after which becoming extinct. Nevertheless, Paricutín is still hot and its cone still emits steam. Tectonic activity in the vicinity of the volcano also continues, but even when the magma moves, no eruption occurs.

The Paricutín volcano provides researchers with an excellent example of the evolution of monogenetic scoria cone. The eruption took place from 1943 to 1952, lasting a total of 9 years and including several stages. The volcano belongs to the most widespread type of rape not only on Earth, but also in the solar system. It is also part of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt and the Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field. Magma at its base is of medium density and belongs to the basaltic-andesite type. Its composition evolved with the change of different stages during the eruption. Paricutín is currently extinct, as most monogenetic volcanoes erupt only once. However, his cone is still hot, and magma movements and tectonic activity continue.


Erlund, E. J., Cashman, K. V., Wallace, P. J., Pioli, L., Rosi, M., Johnson, E., & Delgado Granados, H. (2009). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 197(1-4), 167-187. Web.

Kereszturi, G., & Németh, K. (2016). Sedimentology, eruptive mechanism and facies architecture of basaltic scoria cones from the Auckland Volcanic Field (New Zealand). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 324(15). 41-56. Web.

Larrea, P., Salinas, S., Widom, E., Siebe, C., & Abbitt, R. (2017). Compositional and volumetric development of a monogenetic lava flow field: The historical case of Paricutin (Michoacán, Mexico). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 348(15), 36-48. Web.

Tchamabé, B. C., Kereszturi, G., Németh, K., & Carrasco‐Núñez, G. (2016). How polygenetic are monogenetic volcanoes: Case studies of some complex Maar‐Diatreme volcanoes. In K. Nemeth (Ed.). Updates in volcanology: From volcano modelling to volcano geology. IntechOpen. Web.

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