South America



















The South America Region

One of the largest of the CAVW regions, South America spans the greatest length of any continental volcanic region. Subduction of the eastern Pacific's Nazca Plate beneath South America has produced one of the Earth's highest mountain ranges, and its highest volcano, Nevados Ojos del Salado. Three distinct volcanic belts (see map) are separated by volcanically inactive gaps, where subduction is at such a shallow angle that magma is not generated by the process. South America's first CAVW covered the oceanic islands of Ecuador and Chile (in 1962). It was followed one year later by 'The Chilean continent' and, in 1966, by 'Colombia, Ecuador, & Peru.' South America leads all other regions in population of volcanoes, with 194: it also has the largest number of undated 'Holocene' volcanoes (87). This number has dropped considerably from the 112 in the 2nd edition due to completion of more stratigraphic studies, and South America has now edged out Japan (Region 08) in the number of volcanoes with dated eruptions (109 to 108). Chile has the region's largest number of historically active volcanoes, with 41, ranking it 5th among nations, behind Russia's 52. Ecuador, the region's smallest in terms of population and area, is next with 16.

When South America was discovered by Columbus, on his 3rd voyage in 1498, the Inca civilization was large and highly developed, but no records survive of the Andean volcanism that they no doubt witnessed. In 1524, Pizarro started his first voyage along the Pacific coast and within 10 years Atahualpa was executed and the Inca conquered by Spain. Travel overland was slow and difficult, so the Spaniards sailed south, launching their exploration of the Andes from Peru and what is now Ecuador. A result of this pattern is that 27 16th century eruptions are known from Peru northward, while 3 are known south of Peru (and only 8 more in the 17th). In southern Chile, where the population is sparse and the mountains remote, only 3 (of 30) volcanoes have recorded eruptions before the early 1800s. Chaitén volcano sprang to life here in 2008 after more than 9000 years' quiescence, ejecting large amounts of rhyolitic tephra and forming a massive lava dome in the summit caldera, necessitating the evacuation of the coastal town of the same name.

The region's first historically documented eruption was at El Misti, sometime between 1438 and 1471, and the next two were from mainland Ecuador in the early 1530s. The Galápagos Islands were discovered in 1535, but their early visitors were largely pirates, and they were still uninhabited when the first scientific mission arrived in 1790. The first eruption was recorded near the end of that century and the first resident settled in 1807. The Chilean islands were discovered by Juan Fernandez in 1574, but no eruptions were recorded by their only early resident, Robinson Crusoe, during his 1704-09 visit: it remained for Charles Darwin to document the first (and only) certain eruption there in 1835.

South America is dominated by large, often glacier-clad, stratovolcanoes (119, more than any other region) and the world's highest Holocene volcano, the 6887-m-high Nevados Ojos del Salado along the Chile/Argentina border. South America contains 19 Holocene volcanoes in excess of 6000 m, but they are constructed on the high pedestal of the Andean Altiplano, and in terms of edifice heights do not exceed that of volcanoes in other regions. South America trails only Japan and Indonesia in having the most documented VEI ?4 eruptions in the past 200 years. It has had 16% of the world's mudflow-producing eruptions, including the tragic one at Colombia's Ruiz volcano in 1985. Reflecting the many volcanoes remote from human observers, this region has the largest number of eruptions (24) prefixed by the commercial 'at' symbol (@) indicating uncertainty about which of several neighboring volcanoes was actually erupting.

List of Holocene volcanoes in the South America region.

Volcano
Subregion
Type
Status
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Volcanic field
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Volcanic field
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Lava dome(s)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Central Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Complex
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Colombia
Lava dome
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Colombia
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Colombia
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Colombia
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Compound
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Ecuador
Compound
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Ecuador
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Ecuador
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Unrest / Pleistocene)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Galapagos Islands
Shield
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Unrest / Pleistocene)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Complex
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Unrest / Pleistocene)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Complex
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Complex
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Lava dome(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Maar(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Complex
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Lava dome(s)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Maar
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Volcanic field
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Pyroclastic shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Complex
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Unrest / Holocene)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Pyroclastic shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Complex
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Maar
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Unrest / Pleistocene)
Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)
Shield(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)
Shield(s)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)
Shield
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)
Submarine
Holocene (Uncertain Observation)
Peru
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Peru
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Peru
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Peru
Volcanic field
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Peru
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Peru
Lava dome
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Peru
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Peru
Lava dome(s)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Peru
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Peru
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Caldera
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Lava dome(s)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Lava dome(s)
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Volcanic field
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Undated Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Uncertain Evidence)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Subglacial
Holocene (Eruption Observed)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano(es)
Holocene (Eruption Dated)
Southern Chile and Argentina
Stratovolcano
Holocene (Eruption Dated)