B965p181937537 BIRTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF PARICUTIN VOLCANO BULL. u.s.g.S. ___ Extracts from Segerstrom, Kenneth, Geological Studies of the Parícutin area, Erosion Studies at Parí:cutin, p.18-19 in Birth and Development of Parícutin Volcano, Mexico, U.S.Geological Survey Bulletin 965, 1956



Tbe story of Dionisio Pulido and the new volcano that appered in his ~cornfield~ on February 20, lg43, has been told repeatedly and in varying form, accounts having been given by Gonzales and Foshag.(1). With Celedonio Gutierrrrez, the present writer interviewed Pulido July 21, l946. The version ol the story given at that time, differing in some details from an earlier account by Puliido to Gutiérrez, is substantially as foUows:

Earthquakos were felt vory frequently during the 18 days preceding the eruption, and on Sunday, February 14, the announcement was made in San Juan Parangaricutito that it was believed a volcano would erupt on Corros de Tancitaro. On Saturday, February 20, Pulido went from his home in tbe villlage of Parrícutin to San Juan Parangaricutiro. A series ol strong earthquakes made him hurry back, but following one strong tremor that shook tho trees after his return home there was calm. After dinner Pulido left his family again and went to burn branches at Tipúracurao, a piece of land that he wished later to sow. Im Llano de Cuiyúsuru, just below Tipúracuaro and about 2.3 kilometers south-southwest of Parícutin village, he saw a crack in the earth about 5 meters long and 20 centimeters wide. He went on and quickly finiished his work. Returning through the Llano, Pulido heard a subterranean roar like that of a mountain torront. The crack was now about 200 meters long, and vapors were issuing from a short section that was from 3 to 5 meters wide. Alarmed, he walked around the crack and drove his burros, oxen, and mares from a pasture just below Cuiyúsuru.En route to the village he stopped at a spring that always had water, but the spring had suddenly gone dry.

Accordingto DioNisio Pulido the exact spot where the volcano eruptod was a small depression, about 1.5 meters deep and 4 meters in diameter, known to the villagers as a place where water always sank into the ground. Unsuccesful attempts had been made to it fill it in.. On excellent aerial photographs takcn the Compañía Mexicana Aerofoto in 1933, the cite as it was 10 years before the eruption can be viewed very realistically through a stereoscope. The pictures show a cleared bench at Cuiyúsuru about 300 by 500 meters in area. Below the bench, a short wooded slope descended steeply to a much larger clearing known as Llano de Quitzocho; above a similar wooded s]ope ascended to the bench where Pu]ldo burned his branches.

The volcano was born at 4 30 in the afternoon; at midnight a cone surrounded by burning forest could be seen from Parícutin village. Loud explosions accompnied the cruption of the con-forming ejecta. Two or three days 1ater the first lava flow - basaltic, viscous, and blocky - was seen issuing from the ground. This flow lasted about 2 weeks, but many others have since issued from vents at the northeast and southwest base of the cone. Much of the explosively erupted ash, lapilli, and bombs that built up the cone itself was ejected far beyond the base of the volcano to distances ranging up to more than a kilometer for the bombs and several hundred kilometers for the fine ash, and soon many square kilometers of the surrounding terrain were buried under a mantle of ash. On Octobor l9 a small satellite ciber cone, Sapichu, began to form near the northeast base of the parent cone; its activity continued until January G, l944

Footnote 1) Gonzalez, R. Jenero, and Foshag, W.F., The birth of Paricutin: Smithsonian Ann. Rpt. 10

end of extract from p.18-19. Extracts from Foshag, William F., and Gonzáles, Jenaro, Birth and development of the Parícutin Volcano, Mexico pp. 375-377 in Geological Studies of the Parícutin area,Mexico;U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 965, 1956

.......the manifestation was witnessed by several of the area, Tarascan Indians, whose keen perception and innate knowledge of natural phenomena are responsible for the first account of the birth of a new volcano. Among the actual eyewitnesses to this unusual event, we were able to interview Sr. Dionisio Pulido, owner of Cuiyúsuru, the farm that brought forth the the volcano; Sra. Paula Cervantes Rangel de Pulido, his wife; Dolores Sr. Dolores Pulido, his brother; all of Parícutin; and Sra.Aurora Cuara of San Juan Parangaricutiro.

Demetrio Toral, a laborer from Parícutin employed by Pulido as helper ,was plowing land at Cuiyusuru. He had just completed a furrow and was about to turn his plow when the first outbreak of the volcano occurred almost in the exact furrow he had just drawn. This remarkable coincidence has led some people into the belief that Toral "plowed up the volcano". Toral, a deaf mute, died soon after in Caltzontzin.

It has been reported that Jose María Isidro was also present at the outbreak of the volcano, but we have been unable to locate him.

A lad of San Juan of Parangaricutiro, hearing the accounts of the outbreak being discussed by the townspeople in the plaza, went to .field near the edge of town, and took photographs (pl.16A,B) of the event. The time was about 5 p. m.

Immediately after the outbreak of the volcano, the presidente miunicipal of San Juan Parangaricutiro sent a group to the spot to investigate the event. Of the group members we succeeded in finding Juan Anguiano Espinosa, Jesús Martínez, and Luis Ortiz Solorio and obtaini9ng from them an account of the events that occurred an hour or so after the initial outbreak.

Among the offlcials of the municipio who contributed accounts were the presidente municipal Sr. Felipe Cuara Amezcua and the parish priest, José Caballero. Sr. Celedonio Gutiérrez, of San Juan tiro, has maintained a diary since the beginning of the tivity and has given us access to a copy of this valuable Finally, the event is succinctly described in the official records of the municipio of San Juan Parangaricutiro, a certified copy of which Cuara Amezcua prepared for us.


~Dionisio Pulido was a resident of the village of Parícutin. For 31 years owner of Cuiyúsuru farm. He is now a resident of Caltzontzin, near Uruapan, a village organized to accommodate the inhabitants of Parícutin. His farm.was divided into three . parts: one which he worked himself, one which he shared with his brother Dolores, and one which he rented on ~shares to other". Upon his land was a small hole (mentioned by Sra. Murillo) with an apparent depth of 11/2 meters. Year after year he and Dolores cast dirt and debris in this hole without succeeding in filling it. Frequently Pulido hid his oxen yoke and plow in it to spare the trouble of bringing them to Parícutin. Before January 1943 nothing unusual about his farm had attracted his attention. Its picturesque and peaceful environment pleased his Tarascan nature. Never, not even on the day of the initial volcanic outbreak on Cuiyúsuru, did he note any unusual warmth in the ground, as has been so frequently stated in popular accounts of the event.

On February 20, 1943, Pulido left his village, going to his farm to prepare the fields for the spring sowing. He was accompanied by his wife, Paula, his small son, who would watch the sheep, and Demetrio Toral, his helper, to begin the plowing. The day was calm, and the sky was clear. Pulido's account, as he related it to us, follows:

In the afternoon I joined my wife and son, who were watching the sheep, and inquired if anything new had occurred, since for 2 weeks we had felt strong tremors in the region. Paula replied, yes, that she had heard noise and thunder under-ground. Scarcely had she finished speaking when I, myself, heard a noise, like thunder during a rainstorm, but I could not explain it, for the sky above was clear and the day was so peaceful, as it is in February.

At 4 p. m. I left my wife to set fire to a pile of branches which Demetrio and I and another, whose name I cannot remember, had gathered. I went to burn the branches when I noticed that a cueva,(4) which was situated on one of the knolls of my farm, had opened,(5) and I noticed that this fissure, as I followed it with my eye, was long and passed from where I stood, through the hole, and continued in the direction of Cerro de Canicjuata, where Canicjuata joins Mesa de Cocjarao. Here is something new and strange, thought I, and I searched the ground for marks to see whether or not it had opened in the night, but could find none; and I saw that it was a kind of fissure that had only a depth of half a meter. 1 set about to ignite the branches again when I felt a thunder, the trees trembled, and I turned to speak to Paula; and it was then I saw how, in the hole, the ground swelled and raised itself 2 or 21/2 meters high, and a kind of smoke or fine dust gray, like ashes began to rise up in a portion of the crack that I had not previously seen near the resumidero. Immediately more smoke began to rise, with a hiss or whistle, loud and continuous; and there was a smell of sulfur. I then became greatly frightened and tried to help unyoke one of the ox teams. I hardly knew what to do, so stunned was I before this, not knowing what to think or what to do and not able to find my wife or my son or my animals. Finally my wits returned and I recalled the sacred Señor de los Milagros, which was in the church in San Juan (Parangaricutiro) and in a loud voice I cried, "Santo Señor de los Milagros, you brought me into this world now save me from the dangers in which I am about to die;" and I looked toward the fissure whence rose the smoke; and my fear for first time disappeared. I ran to see if I could save my family and my companions and my oxen, but I did not see them and thought that they had taken the oxen to the spring for water. I saw that there was no longer anv water in the spring for it was a near the fissure, and I thought the water was lost because of the fissure. Then, verv frightened, 1 mounted my mare and galloped to Paríctin where I found my wife and son and friends awaiting, fearing that I might be deadand that they would never see me again. On the road to Parĺcutin I thought of my little animals, the yoke oxen, that were going to die in that flame and smoke, but arriving at my house I was happy to see that they were there.

Upon his arrival at Parícutin, Pulido reported the event to the chief of the Paricutin subdivision, Sr. C. Agustín Sánchez, who then accompanied him to San Juan Parangaricutiro to report to the president of the municipio, Sr. Felipe Cuara Amezcua.

On the following day Pulido drove his oxen to the forest to graze and then went to his farm to see what had occurred. When he arrived there at 8 a. m., he saw that a hill, which he estimated to be 10 meters high had formed and that this mound emitted smoke and hurled out rocks with great violence

. Alfonso de la O Carreño (1943) states that a light seism accompanied by subtarranean noises and followed by a distant detonation was perceived at San Juan Parangaricutiro on Saturday, the 20th, at 8:20 p.m.. Pulido reported to him that, at 4 p. m. and before, he walked about his farm hearing noises like those of a heavy freshet,that the sky was cloudless, and that he looked in all directions to localize the noise. Then suddenly he saw a large column of black smoke arise from a depression, and a fissure, 5 centimeters wide, open in the soil; and he was able to follow the eastward-trending fissure with his eye for 30 meters. Footnote (4) Varlously referred to by Pulido as a cueva (cave or grotto), remumidero (a hole or crevice, into which water disappears during the rainy season), or agujero (a hole). Footnote (5) In another account Pulldo described the initial noise as a pop, as one hears upon opening a bottle of carbonated beverage. End of excerpt from pp.375-377.

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