Virtual Volcano Vacation #46 WINNER! – San Miguel

san miguel pano web

Original image found at

You guys are like the extra pounds I gained during Thanksgiving. No matter how far I run, I cannot seem to lose you. 😀 Congratulations, Jonet for finding me at San Miguel, also called Volcán Chaparrastique down in El Salvador.

This volcano seems to have no real interesting history, eruptive or otherwise, nor have I found mention of any myths or legends surrounding it nor even popular cultural references. But what this volcano lacks in colourful past or quriks it makes up for in sheer volcanic beauty. Rising from just around sea-level to 2130 m, it is one of the more prominent geographical features in the area. Also, it has that iconic stratovolcano shape…symmetrical cone whose slopes are gentle at the bottom but become steeper near the summit. At lower altitudes, San Miguel is covered in coffee plantations, but up near the top it stays relatively naked due to regularly occurring eruptions. And most importantly, it is crowned with a deep wide summit crater, where most of its recent activity has happened.

san miguel crater

“This view from the southern crater rim shows the 2030 m high point of San Miguel on the NE rim at the upper right. An ejecta-covered terrace on the eastern side of the crater is truncated by a deep inner crater. The crater morphology has varied dramatically since the beginning of documentation in the 16th century. In 1866 a 600-m-wide, 320-m-deep crater existed in the SE part of the summit crater, while a 100-m-wide, 80-m-deep adventive crater was located in its ENE part.” – Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution). – Image and caption originally found at GVP

It is said that the mountain had a sharp peak before the 16th century, but now sports a one-mile-wide crater that seems to be its own little geological microcosm of intriguing features that change with each explosive eruption. There are lava benches, fumaroles, a steaming crater pit and remnants of an old cinder cone.

san miguel eruption

“San Miguel (Chaparrastique) volcano spewing massive ash cloud on December 29, 2013.” – Image originally found at

San Miguel’s eruptions tend to be of the explosive sort that generate ash clouds, but has caused no significant loss of life or property for those living around it. In its past, however, San Miguel has in its past generated several lava flows. One of the volcano’s largest basalt flows was erupted from a fissure low on the volcano’s southeast flank and reached past the base of the volcano. Its cooled remnants are still visible today.


“This sparsely vegetated basaltic lava flow was erupted from a fissure vent on the lower SE flank of San Miguel in 1819. The flow covers a broad 2.5-km-wide, 5-km-long area on the low-angle slopes below the volcano and reaches down to an elevation of less than 40 m above sea level. The principal coastal highway of El Salvador traverses the flow below the point of this photo, and the national railway crosses the flow closer to the vent.” – Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution). – Image and caption originally found at GVP

Thank you everybody who hunted for me. The end of the year and anniversary of this blog are both coming up fast, as well as my 50th virtual volcano. It has been an amazing fun year of adventure and learning, and I hope there are more years ahead. I would like to hear from you all about what you liked about my challenges, what you want more of, perhaps what you would like a little less of, or maybe you have a suggestion to make the game more exciting or challenging. OR maybe you want to be “it” once in a while. I am completely open to suggestions.

And of course, this coming Monday, “crater-quest” continues with a new adventure at a new volcano.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s