The birth of a volcano

On February 20th, 1943, Dionisio Pulido watched as a crack in his farm field collapsed in on itself and began to vomit out ash, rock, and fire. The birth of Mexico's Parícutin volcano is a story I've heard before, but I really enjoyed Dana Hunter's two-part series on the occasion of its 70th volcanaversary. Her posts really get into the perspective of Pulido and other local residents in a way I haven't seen in other accounts, and she does an amazing job of giving you a sense of just how well-documented the birth of this volcano was and why that fact matters so much. Here's Part 1 and Part 2.


  1. I’ve often wondered what happened to the locals since I first read the story as a kid. The only off note was the persistent translation of metric measurements into feet and yards. It was my impression that SA articles assume, to greater and lesser degrees, some fluency in science. Doesn’t everyone laboring under other systems of measurement have at least a rough idea by now of what a meter represents?

    1.  “Doesn’t everyone laboring under other systems of measurement have at least a rough idea by now of what a meter represents?”

      Ans: No. They are all still deathly afraid that they might have to watch something called ‘Meterball’ in the future…..

  2. What a great story!  I particularly liked how folks in the town reacted; alarm, then unbearable curiosity.  I mean, it’s a new volcano!  How many times in your life are you going to get to see one of those?

    1. I too read about this in grade school in the 70’s, and was thinking about it the other day :)

      Thanks for posting Maggie. I was thinking that maybe it was some urban legend I read as a kid. Nice to know it was for real!

  3. I am particularly interested in Paricutin because my father told me about it when I was a little boy (Paricutin and I are almost the same age).  I have visited the volcano several times and climbed it once.  The church is the only building not completely buried in the lava flow.  It is half buried and quite dramatic.  There is a vent near the base of the cinder cone, among the lava flows, from which steam and sulfurous fumes still rise.  The rocks around it are brightly colored by sulfur (yellow) and perhaps iron (red).

Comments are closed.