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What is Paricutin? 

You probably have heard of Paricutin and you just didn't know it. It is better known as "The volcano that grew out of a cornfield." 


Paricutin was a rare geological event because it allowed the scientific community to see the birth, growth, and death of a volcano.



The eruption that created Paricutin began in 1943 and continued until 1952.



On February 20, 1943 a farmer by the name of Dionisio Pulido observed the birth of the volcano, which swelled upward and cracked to form a fissure 2-2.5 meters across. (Lurh, 1993, http://volcano.und.nodak)


Elevation 10,400 feet
Longitude 102° 2′ 0″ W
Latitude 19° 5′ 0″ N


This regional map indicates where Paricutin can be found.

This map of Mexico indicates where Paricutin can be found.

bulletThe day that Paricutin was born Strombolian pyroclastic activity began and only a mere 24 hours later the eruption had generated a 50 meter high scoria cone. In a week the height of "the volcano that grew out a corn field", had doubled in size from the accumulation of bombs and finer fragments of ash that was raining down on the village of Paricutin.  On June 12th, 1944, a lobe of lava began to advance towards Paricutin which had already begun to evacuate.


bulletA few months later Paricutin and San Juan were both covered in lava and ash.


bulletThe only thing left standing in Paricutin was a church.


church in Paricutin after lava flow (












                             church in Paricutin side view                            (






bulletRecently there has been some more research by James Luhr, it has been based on analyzing the chemical composition of glass inclusions in olivine crystals from small cinders.  This in turn proves how quickly the lava had been cooled. (Luhr, 2002)


                                    This is one of the olivine crystals that Luhr found (Luhr, 2002)



bulletParicutin is a Cinder Cone.  A cinder cone is the simplest type of volcano.  It is built from particles and pieces of congealed lava ejected from a single vent.  When the gas charged lava is blown into the air it breaks into small fragments that solidify and fall as cinders around the vent to form a circular or oval cone.  At the summit there is a bowl shaped crater.




Some more pictures





Post-eruption airplane view from the north shows the main cone and the NE-flank vent mound of Nuevo Juatita, which was the main source of lava during the last 5 years of the eruption. Photo taken by Jim Luhr in 1997. Note that vegetation is beginning to gain a foothold on the 45-year-old lava flows, particularly where fine ash and cinders accumulated in crevices. (


First lava flow from Parícutin, the "volcano born in a Mexican cornfield", moving northward over two fields prepared for planting; a rock wall separates the fields. Photo taken by Instituto de Geología scientists from the north on the eruption's fifth day (Feb. 25, 1943). A dark, ash-rich plume rises from the new volcano, whose flanks are obscured by fine dust and vapor. (







Luhr, J. (2002), Complex Magmatic Processes Operating in Deep Volcanic Plumbing: Smithsonian Natural Museum Of Natural History. Retrieved January 31, 2004, from

Lurh, J. & Simkin, T.,(1993). Paricutin: A Volcano Born In A Mexican Cornfield: Phoenix, Geoscience Press. Retrieved  January 31, 2005, from http://volcano.und.nodak)