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Parícutin (or Volcán de Parícutin, also accented Paricutín by locals, to more closely match the pronunciation of the native Purepecha name Parhicutini, or spelled unaccented as Paricutin) is a cinder cone volcano in the Mexican state of Michoacán, close to a lava-covered village of the same name. It appears on many versions of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Paricutín is part the Michoacán-Guanajuato Volcanic Field, which covers much of west central Mexico.
The volcano began as a fissure in a cornfield owned by Tarascan farmer Dionisio Pulido on February 20, 1943. Pulido, his wife, and their son all witnessed the initial eruption of ash and stones first-hand as they plowed the field. Much of the volcano's growth occurred during its first year, while it was still in the explosive pyroclastic phase. Nearby villages Paricutín (after which the volcano was named) and San Juan Parangaricutiro were both buried in lava and ash; the residents relocated to vacant land nearby.
At the end of this phase, after roughly one year, the volcano had grown 336 meters tall. For the next eight years the volcano would continue erupting, although this was dominated by relatively quiet eruptions of lava that would scorch the surrounding 25 km² of land. The volcano's activity would slowly decline during this period until the last six months of the eruption, during which violent and explosive activity was frequent. In 1952 the eruption ended and Parícutin went quiet, attaining a final height of 424 metres above the cornfield from which it was born. The volcano has been quiet since. Like most cinder cones, Parícutin is a monogenetic volcano, which means that it will never erupt again.
Volcanism is a common part of the Mexican landscape. Parícutin is merely the youngest of more than 1,400 volcanic vents that exist in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and North America. The volcano is unique in the fact that its formation was witnessed from its very conception. Three people died as a result of lightning strikes caused by the eruptions, but no deaths were attributed to the lava or asphyxiation.
Shots of the volcano during its active phase were included in 20th Century Fox's film Captain from Castile, released in 1947.
Discrepancy in elevation
There are actually two different elevations attributed to Parícutin. According to some sources, including the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program and SummitPost.org, the elevation of the volcano is 3,170 meters (10,397 feet). One web site has this elevation for both Parícutin and nearby El Jorullo, but the actual altitude of El Jorullo is much lower. Other sources, including Peakbagger.com and Bartleby.com as well as many maps along with GPS measurements on Google Earth have the elevation of Paricutín at only 2,774 meters (9,101 feet).