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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 19.3°N
  • 110.82°W

  • 332 m
    1089 ft

  • 341020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Barcena.

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The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Barcena.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



1953 CE

332 m / 1089 ft


Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)
Lava dome(s)

Rock Types

Trachyte / Trachyandesite
Trachybasalt / Tephrite Basanite
Trachyandesite / Basaltic trachy-andesite
Basalt / Picro-Basalt

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

Volcán Bárcena, formed by eruptions during 1952-53, is the most prominent feature of Isla San Benedicto, the NE-most of the Revillagigedo Islands, 350 km south of the tip of Baja California. San Benedicto island, elongated in a NE-SW direction, contains a series of Pleistocene trachytic lava domes at the north end. The southern end of the 4.5-km-long island is formed by Bárcena and Montículo Cinerítico, a smaller tephra cone that preceded and was largely overtopped by Bárcena. Montículo Cinerítico may also have been constructed during the past few hundred years and formed the high point of the island prior to the formation of Bárcena. Growth of the 300-m-high Bárcena tephra cone beginning in August 1952 was accompanied by strong explosive eruptions and pyroclastic flows. The eruption concluded the following year with the emplacement of two small lava domes in the crater and extrusion of a prominent coastal lava delta at the SE base of the cone.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Green J, Short N M, 1971. Volcanic Landforms and Surface Features: a Photographic Atlas and Glossary. New York: Springer-Verlag, 519 p.

Luhr J F, Kimberly P G, Siebert L, Aranda-Gomez J J, Housh T B, Kysar Mattietti G, 2006. Quaternary volcanic rocks: insights from the MEXPET petrological and geochemical database. In: Siebe S, Macias J-L, Aguirre-Diaz G J (eds) Neogone-Quaternary continental margin volcanism: a perspective from Mexico, {Geol Soc Amer Spec Pap}, 402: 1-44.

Mooser F, Meyer-Abich H, McBirney A R, 1958. Central America. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 6: 1-146.

Richards A F, 1959. Geology of the Islas Revillagigedo, Mexico 1. Birth and development of Volcan Barcena, Isla San Benedicto. Bull Volc, 22: 73-124.

Richards A F, 1966. Geology of the Islas Revillagigedo, Mexico, 2. Geology and petrography of Isla San Benedicto. Proc Calif Acad Sci, 33: 361-414.

Richards A F, 1965. Geology of the Islas Revillagigedo, 3. Effects of erosion on Isla San Benedicto 1952-61 following the birth of Volcan Barcena. Bull Volc, 28: 381-403.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1952 Aug 1 1953 Feb 24 ± 4 days Confirmed 3 Historical Observations South end of Isla San Benedicto

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Boquerón, El | San Benedicto Island


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Montículo Cinerítico Tuff cone 297 m 19° 18' 0" N 110° 49' 0" W


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Herrera, Crater Dome 19° 18' 29" N 110° 49' 0" W
López de Villalobos, Cerro Dome 19° 18' 0" N 110° 49' 0" W
Roca Challenger Dome 19° 18' 0" N 110° 49' 0" W
Rocas Trinidad Dome 19° 19' 0" N 110° 49' 0" W

Photo Gallery

An aerial view from the SE shows the Bárcena tuff cone, constructed during an eruption in the Revillagigedo Islands off the western coast of México during 1952-53. The 700-m-wide crater is partially filled by small lava domes, and a fissure on the flank of the cone fed the black lava delta at the lower right. The tuff cone was constructed to a height of about 330 m from near sea level within the first few weeks of an eruption that began on August 1. The first lava dome had formed by mid-September, and flank lava effusion began on December 8.

Photo by Adrian Richards, 1955 (U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory).
Bárcena volcano forms the elongated island of San Benedicto, seen here from the SW in March 1955. The tuff cone with the circular summit crater at the center and the lava delta to the right were formed during an eruption in 1952-53, the only eruption known from this volcano in historical time. Pleistocene trachytic lava domes are located at the far NE tip of the island. Dark-colored lava domes from the 1952-53 eruption can be seen in the summit crater.

Photo by Adrian Richards, 1955 (U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office).
A steaming lava flow issuing from a fissure on the SE flank of Bárcena volcano, in the Revillagigedo Islands west of México, forms a peninsula about 300 m wide that extends about 230 m out to sea. This photo from the SE on December 11, 1952 was taken only 3 days after the beginning of lava effusion. By the time the eruption ended in February 1953 the lava delta had extended the shoreline by 700 m.

Photo by Adrian Richards, 1952 (U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office).
An aerial view from the west shows the new steaming summit crater of Volcán Bárcena. The crater truncates a 700-m-wide tuff cone that had grown to a height of about 380 m in the first two weeks of the eruption. At the time of this September 20, 1952 photo, taken about 7 weeks after the start of the eruption, the first of two lava domes had emerged in the summit crater. Extrusion of a lava flow that formed a delta on the far SE side of the island had not yet begun.

Photo by U.S. Navy, 1952 (courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
Pyroclastic surges sweep out to sea at the western coast of the island at about 0805 hrs on August 1, 1952, about 20 minutes after the start of the eruption. Several inches of ash and scoriae up to 12 mm in diameter fell on the deck of the fishing boat from which this photo was taken as it sailed away from the volcano at full speed. All but the northern end of the island was obscured by the eruption column.

Photo by Robert Petrie, 1952 (U.S. Navy; courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
A weak ash-laden vulcanian eruption plume rises from the crater on September 9, 1952, more than a month after the start of the eruption. The roughly 300-m-wide crater is seen here from the east. Explosions producing eruption columns that rose to about 600 m above sea level were observed at 20-minute intervals, along with occasional small pyroclastic surges that swept down the flanks of the cone and sometimes reached the coast. The roar of the eruption was heard above the noise of the plane's engine.

Photo by U.S. Navy, 1952 (courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
A small steam-and-ash eruption on December 10, 1952 took place from the moat between the inner (dark-colored) and outer lava domes in the summit crater of Bárcena. A lava dome was first observed on September 20, when it was about 8 m high and 55 m wide. On November 15 the dome was observed to fill about half of the 700-m-wide crater. At the time of this photo, an older outer dome littered with breadcrust bombs and ejecta surrounded the freshly extruded inner dome.

Photo by L.W. Walker, 1952 (courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
An overflight on November 15, 1952 shows the crater half filled with viscous trachytic lava. Sporadic small steam-and-ash explosions were observed during the overflight, and continuous weak steam emission took place from the center of the dome. Montículo Cinerítico in the left background at the southern tip of the island is an eroded pyroclastic cone that preceded the 1952 eruption.

Photo by U.S. Navy, 1952 (courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
A new pyroclastic cone, Volcán Bárcena, was rapidly constructed during explosive eruptions beginning August 1, 1952 at the south end of Isla San Benedicto. This photo was taken from off the west coast of the island only four minutes after the start of the eruption and also shows the onset of pyroclastic surges. Lava dome extrusion occurred in September, November, and December. On December 8 lava effusion began from a vent on the SE flank, producing a lava delta that extended about 700 m to sea. Activity ended in late February.

Photo by Robert Petrie, 1952 (U.S. Navy; courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
The dramatic lava delta formed during the 1952-53 eruption is seen from the NE. The Delta Lávico flow extended 700 m out to sea on the SE side of Isla San Benedicto and formed a peninsula about 1200 m wide. A thin tongue of lava can be seen at the right originating from the vent on the lower SE flank. The SE-flank eruption began on December 8, and by the following morning the trachytic lava flow reached the coast. Lava effusion continued until January and February.

Photo by U.S. Navy, 1952 (courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
Entry of the Delta Lávico flow into the sea produces steam clouds along the margins of the flow. The flow originated from a vent low on the Volcán Bárcena 1952-53 tuff cone visible behind the flow. Punta Sur, the southernmost tip of the island, is in the left background and consists of a truncated portion of the trachytic Montículo Cinerítico tuff cone, which formed prior to the 1952 eruption and was formerly the highest point on the island.

Photo by U.S. Navy, 1952 (courtesy of Sherman Neuschel, U.S. Geological Survey).
Wave erosion rapidly modified the once smooth coastal margin of the lava delta erupted in 1952-53. The vent for the flow lies at the upper left at the base of the light-colored tuff cone also formed during the eruption. The Delta Lávico flow extended 700 m out to sea and formed a peninsula about 1200 m wide.

Photo by Hugo Delgado-Granados, 1993 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
The dramatic Delta Lávico flow forms a peninsula on the SE flank of Volcán Bárcena at the southern end of San Benedicto Island. The tuff cone and lava flow were formed during the 1952-53 eruption. The Bárcena tuff cone now marks the high point of the island. The flat-topped cone at the right is Cráter Herrera, a trachytic lava dome capped by a smooth-floored crater. Another lava dome, Roca Challenger, forms the northern tip of the island beyond Cráter Herrera.

Photo by Hugo Delgado-Granados, 1993 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

A listing of samples from the Smithsonian collections will be available soon.

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Barcena Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.