Geology rarely offers observers and experts in the field the opportunity to see the changes in the Earth as they happen. It’s usually a case of events taking place over millions of years, unless it’s an earth quake or volcanic eruption. The creation of physical mountains is a process that normally takes a very long time to complete. But in 1943 in Mexico, geologists the world over had the chance of a lifetime. An opportunity that has never occurred on land since, or beforehand. They got to witness a rare volcano birth in 1943. The volcano that was created was Paricutin.
Imagine this. You are slaving away in your cornfield trying to make a modest living. All of a sudden, bam, the ground opens up and you are standing in the middle of the world’s largest popcorn maker. Smoke, fire and lave begin to fill your modest little cornfield, and there’s little you can do but run like hell. It sounds unlikely, but it did happen in 1943 in Mexico. Well not exactly like that, but you get the idea. It was like hell on Earth for the inhabitants of the region.
On February 20, 1943, in a cornfield near the village of Paricutin, Mexico, the ground cracked open and began to spew red-hot rocks. Despite what may have seemed to be the pits of hell opening to devour all in fire and brimstone, what was really happening was the birth of a volcano. The world’s newest volcano.
So the volcano birth in 1943 of Paricutin came as a bit of a surprise, and it didn’t mess around either. It grew to 5 stories in height the first week alone. It continued to erupt and grow for nine years, until 1952 when it finally ran out of puff. By 1952, when it went silent, it had soared to 424 metres (1,391 feet) above the corn field it was once in and had buried two towns.
As far as uniqueness goes, Paricutin was witnessed from creation right through extinction. It offered science many opportunities that other active volcanoes couldn’t. So spectacular was its creation that is is often listed among the seven wonders of the natural world.
The actual volcano is pictured to the right.