Volcano of Paricutin, also known as ‘Volcan de Paricutin’ is located about 200 miles west of Mexico City. It is the youngest of all volcanic vents in the Michoacan-Guanajuato volcanic field, a basalt plateau dominated by lava domes, violent cones, small shield volcanoes, maars, tuff rings.
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It lies on the northern flank of the Cerros de Tancítaro, and extends 3,170 meters above sea level, wedged against old volcanic mountain chains and surrounded by small lava cones with the valleys all around occupied by small settlements or small fields and gardens. After only one day of its discovery, the volcano had risen to 164 feet (50 m) and in a week it was 500 feet (150 m) high.
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Discovery: One fine evening in February 1943, a Mexican farmer named Dionisio Pulido was working in his field in the Tarascan Indian village of Paricutin. He and his family had been very excited with the advent of spring. They had been busy clearing the field, putting it in piles and burning it. After his lunch, Pulido moved to a different field and continued with his ‘burn the pile’ task. Just when he entered the field, he was little bewildered to see a crack on the hill. It was over seven feet wide and 148 feet long.
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At first Pulido dint bother as the crack looked about a foot deep. But about an hour later when he was busy with his the pile of branches, he heard the sound of thunderclap roaring across the field. He felt a sudden tremor in the ground. When he turned to look back at the crack, he saw that the ground there had bulged up to over six feet in height. Gray ashes were streaming out of the hole. Suddenly the sky was filled with clouds of smoke.
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Frightened by these events, Pulido rushed to his town to find his family waiting for him but at the same time, he was terrified with the fissure he had witnessed in his cornfield that day. Little was he aware that these incidents would forever change his life with the mysteries about to unfold. It was later revealed that the eruption in his cornfield was altogether a new finding for the scientists: a volcano. It was the first time when it was likely for all the scientists to observe the birth of a volcano, enjoy his childhood, study his life and observe all its patterns till its death i.e. its complete life cycle could be documented. Whoa…!!
These findings would help them understand the powerful pressures inside the earth which ultimately leads to the discoveries about surface of our planet.
About a month after the eruption, William F. Foshag from the U.S. National Museum with his Mexican counterpart, Dr. Jenaro González-Reyna spent the next several years documenting the changing patterns of the volcano. They gathered such samples and photographs from Paricutin which are used by the scientists till date while doing volcanic research.
Although the towns had to be evacuated, a few people had lost their lives, hundreds of them had lost their livelihood, forcing them to be permanently relocated, but Paricutin itself has become a spot of tourist attraction. People have been allured to the volcano ever since 1943 and they keep visiting the hardened-lava covering the ruins of the San Juan Parangaricutiro Church. Since then, volcano of Paricutin bears the honor of being assigned with the tag of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World by CNN.