The 1943 eruption of Parícutin near the town of the same name in Mexico was the first time scientists have been able to study the full life-cycle of a volcano from first formation, to eruption, and into extinction.
This was possible because Parícutin was nothing more than a flat cornfield until 1943 when almost overnight the field transformed into a nearly 1,400 foot high active volcano.
Parícutin showed first signs of activity when people nearby began hearing what sounded like thunder, though the sky was clear and not stormy.
One day a farmer named Dionisio Pulido was working on his farm when he heard the thunder-like sound and witnessed a fissure form in the ground exposing ash and steam. Dionisio watched as the fissure suddenly grew to about seven feet high.
Upon seeing the fissure suddenly rise, Dionisio quickly left the area. Within 24 hours the fissure had transformed into a volcano over 150 feet high and within a week had doubled that.
Nine years later in 1952 the volcano became extinct and the final height was almost 1,400 feet above what used to be a flat cornfield. Nearby towns including the town of Parícutin were destroyed.
- The eruption of Paricutin (link is external). Dr. Vic Camp, Department of Geological Sciences, San Diego State University. 2006.