Farmer’s Field Becomes Volcano in a Day, 1943

Of all the trials and tribulations a farmer must face, a field of theirs erupting into a volcano takes some beating. But that is exactly what happened to a Mexican farmer one February day.

How would you handle a volcano suddenly bursting asunder on your land? It might make acquiring the services of a decent landscape gardener much trickier, for starters.

A Mexican farmer by the name of Dionisio Pulido suffered a similar dilemma when a cinder cone volcano spewed up in his cornfield, 200 miles (320km) west of Mexico City in 1943.

For weeks prior locals reported a queer sound like thunder, yet observed no stormy clouds in the sky to explain the rumbling.

Instead, magma surging up towards the surface from deep below was triggering an ever-rising crescendo of micro-earthquakes which, on the eve of the eruption, had reached 25–30 per day.

Late in the afternoon of the 20th of February Pulido and his family were working the land when a thunder was felt, the trees trembled and the ground suddenly swelled. A jagged cleft between 2–2.5 m (6.5–8.2ft) wide opened up the fiery guts of the earth beneath.

Pulido reported: “…a kind of smoke or fine dust – grey, like ashes – began to rise up in a portion of the crack that I had not previously seen …Immediately more smoke began to rise with a hiss or whistle, loud and continuous; and there was a smell of sulfur.

Paricutin rose 50 meters (165ft) in its first 24 hours (

Aghast, he and his family fled to town.

As night drew in, witnesses described how “red flames of fire rose into the darkened sky, some rising 800m (2600ft) or more into the air, that burst like golden marigolds, and a rain like fireworks fell to the ground.

24 hours later the Parícutin volcano had risen 50 meters (165ft) and, by the end of the week, it had burgeoned up to 150m (490ft), clouding the valley in smoke and ash.

Paricutin continued its baby growth for another nine years to reach its present height of 424m (1390ft).

The damage she did to the surrounding area forced residents to flee and two new towns were built to accommodate them.

In 1997, CNN included Parícutin in its list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.


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