Saturday, August 20, 2011

0052: El Salvador Volcanoes

Although I never lived there, I was born in El Salvador. Barely... as my mom who was very much into her 8th month - and no airline would allow her to fly - made my dad drive her from New Orleans to El Salvador (her mother country). I literally was almost born in Mexico, no wonder I've always loved Mexico... The things husbands do for their pregnant wives :-) Sadly I don't know as much as I should about the country and its history but I do know that when I went last year I realized first hand how beautiful it is. I can only recall being there 3 or 4 times but this time I really got to see the magic of its natural resources including its volcanoes. 

Volcanoes are plentiful in this tiny country (8k sq mi) and volcanic activity makes for fertile soil—and dilemmas. Attracted by the ability to grow good crops, along with the cooler temperatures that come with higher altitude, people often risk volcano hazards. (Wikipedia lists 22 volcanoes in E.S.) Here are a few of them:
Apaneca. Elevation 6680 ft / 2036 meters.
This volcano is considered extinct (unlikely to erupt again) and is in the mountain range of Apaneca. Apaneca, is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Salvadorian countryside. This region has the highest concentration of coffee plantations in the country (that's what you see in most of the picture). If you like coffee Salvadorian coffee is really good. The sad thing is I don't drink coffee, some people in my family say its unpatriotic :-)

Santa Ana. Elevation 7812 feet / 2381 meters.How cool is this one?!? This volcano has been active since the 16th century and last erupted in 2005, its first eruption in more than 100 years. The eruption reportedly shot out car-sized lava rocks and a flood of boiling mud and water.  It has a small sulfurous lake in its crater, the likely source of the boiling water flood. This is the highest point in El Salvador. 
Izalco. Elevation 6398 feet / 1950 meters. El Salvador’s newest volcano, Izalco. Izalco sprang up in 1770 and erupted frequently until 1966. This young volcano isn’t covered in vegetation, but remains black with recent lava flows.
Coatepeque Caldera. Elevation 2447 feet / 746 meters. This is a large lake inside the Coatepeque Caldera (considered extinct), created when a series of volcanoes collapsed in explosive eruptions between 57,000 and 72,000 years ago. The youngest dome, Cerro Pacho, formed after 8000 BC. There are hot springs near the lake margins. This is one of the largest lakes in El Salvador and was one of my favorite places.  
Boqueron. Elevation 6430 feet / 1960 meters.
Boqueron means "big mouth". This volcano is composed of 3 peaks (2 can be seen in the picture), The Jabalí, the Picacho and finally the Boquerón peak. The most recent eruption was in 1917 caused the crater lake inside to boil and totally evaporate then a cinder cone appeared, christened 'Boqueroncito'.
Lake Ilopango. Elevation 1476 / 450 meters.
This lake fills another beautiful volcanic caldera. The caldera collapsed in the 5th century AD, which produced widespread pyroclastic flows (translation: fast-moving flows which can reach 450 mph) and devastated Mayan cities. This eruption was rated a 6 out of 7 on the (VEI) Volcanic Explosivity Index (the amount of tefra, the stuff volcanoes spit out - technical definition I know... was 20 times as much as the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens)

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