Paricutin – the volcano in a cornfield

Posted: June 30, 2015 by oldbrew in Natural Variation, volcanos

The quiet volcano as it appears today. [credit: Creative Commons  / Karla Yannín Alcázar Quintero]

The quiet volcano as it appears today. [credit: Creative Commons / Karla Yannín Alcázar Quintero]

The day a Mexican farmer saw the beginnings of one of the seven natural wonders of the world – at least
according to CNN

On February 20, 1943, Dionisio Pulido was working in his cornfield just outside the Tarascan Indian village of Paricutin, Mexico. He and his family had spent the day getting ready for the spring sowing by clearing the field of shrubbery, putting it in piles and burning it. At about four in the afternoon, Pulido left his wife and moved to a different field so that he could set fire to a new pile. When he arrived he noticed something strange: on top of a small hill in the field a huge crack, over six feet wide and 150 feet (47m) long, had appeared in the earth. At first Pulido wasn’t concerned, the crack only looked like it was about a foot deep. As he was lighting the pile of branches, however, the sound of thunder rumbled across the field and the ground began to shake.

Pulido turned to look back towards the crack and saw that the ground there had swelled up over six feet in height and fine gray ashes were pouring out of the hole. “Immediately more smoke began to rise with a hiss or whistle, loud and continuous; and there was a smell of sulfur,” Pulido later told witnesses.

Pulido became terrified by these events and tried to find his wife and sons, but couldn’t. He tried to rescue his team of oxen, but they had disappeared also. Despairing that he would never see any of them again, he jumped on his horse and rode to town. There he was happy to find his family and friends waiting for him. “They were afraid that I was dead and that they would never see me again,” said Pulido.

What had appeared in Pulido’s cornfield was a new volcano. The incident at Paricutin would be the first time scientists would be able to observe a volcano from birth through extinction. What they would learn through these events would help them understand the powerful forces deep in the earth that shape the surface of our planet.

Full story here.

The farmer had the last laugh, as notes:
‘Before leaving his home for the final time Pulido put a sign on his land. It read “This volcano is owned and operated by Dionisio Pulido.” Paricutin might have taken his cornfield, but the farmer still retained his sense of humor.’

  1. oldbrew says:

    From: Cataclysms of the Earth – by Hugh Auchincloss Brown (page 241):

    ‘Paracutin is a new mountain but an old phenomenon. Hundreds of other great cinder cones in the area can be rationally attributed to the internal heat of the earth, generated by the development of electric voltages which created earth electric currents which became too concentrated and strong for the rocks to carry without becoming overheated.

    The last previous eruption in this area was that of Jorullo mountain – about 80 to 90 miles to the northwest. This mountain, was created in 1759 and became inactive in 1760. Both mountains are less than a hundred miles from the Pacific coast and at elevations of about 7,400 and 4,300 feet above sea level, respectively.

    If magnetic types of rock, magnetite, can be discovered in the vicinity of the volcanoes, where the earth electric currents flowed, they will be found to possess a magnetic saturation many times greater than the magnetisms being imparted to rocks by normal earth electric currents. Verification of this fact by future research is predicted – this will, in turn, confirm that earth electric currents have caused those volcanoes.

    Electric storms frequently occur in the earth’s atmosphere, often accompanied by a display of aurora borealis. Such storms interrupt grounded telegraph and telephone systems. These interruptions are associated with an overcharged condition of the ambient air.

    Electric currents and magnetism are always inseparable; therefore, the overcharged ambient atmosphere creates a voltage condition of higher potential in the conducting earth materials, rotating from west to east below. The conducting sections of earth materials cut across magnetic lines of force and, like the windings on a dynamo armature, create higher potentials. Higher potentials with unchanged earth resistance create an increase in the rate of flow of the electric earth currents in the circuits of the earth’s materials.’

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    A “mid-ocean ridge” runs just off shore there, then comes ashore and runs under southern California (giving the inland volcanoes out near Death Valley – a rubble filled trench about 9000 ft deep that still ends up below sea leveal) and up to Mammoth Lake caldera and eventually near Mono lake.

    Then it takes a sideways step with a locked section of rocks and the activity picks up again at The Geysers in California, then continuing north to be the source of power for the Shasta Mountain volcanism and even Lassen Volcanic National Park. (And even further up, Mount St. Helens and the volcanoes that will destroy Seattle some day…)

    BTW, that “locked section” had a small burp about 6 million years ago. At that time, another volcano rose straight up out of a wide flat valley area. It has since eroded down to about 1/3 the original height.

    I drove past them for many years wondering “why?”, now I know… It is interesting to grow up some 20 miles from an “extinct” volcano and 100 miles from an “active” one (last activity of merit 1914).

    I also now know that IF that side slide area of rock ever becomes un-stressed ( it is being shoved shut by the ‘bend’ in the expansion line) then another volcano can very easily pop up all of a sudden. Maybe even in my home town…

    Things I think of when I look at that same class of event just a tiny ways south… on the same expansion system…

  3. DD More says:

    E.M. – You might check out Black Butte in Oregon. A bit taller, do to less rain and now tree covered than 1.4 mya. About 70 miles from the old homestead.

  4. Roger Andrews says:

    I remember as a little boy watching movies of the eruption of Paricutín at the local cinema and thinking that one day I would like to go there. Well, a number of years ago I did. Unfortunately the day was wet and cloudy, but there indeed was the church half-buried in lava and the cone, which was disappointingly a good bit smaller than I’d visualized it.

    This part of Mexico is in fact full of monogenetic (i.e. they only erupt once, supposedly) volcanic cones of the Paricutín type, and there’s always a risk that one day one may decide to come up under you, as it did under Dionisio Pulido’s cornfield. (Dionisio, incidentally, gets too much credit. The volcano actually broke surface in a furrow that had just been plowed by Demetrio Toral, a laborer employed by Pulido, who inevitably took the blame for having caused the eruption. He died a short while later.)

    [reply] that’s bosses for you 😉

  5. hunter says:

    Not the HAB “theory”…..