Chichinautzin

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 19.08°N
  • 99.13°W

  • 3930 m
    12890 ft

  • 341080
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Chichinautzin.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Chichinautzin.

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

Eruptive History


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


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
0400 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Xitle
0200 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Chichinautzin
2238 BCE ± 1413 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) Guespalapa
4250 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Tláloc
5840 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Cuauhtzin
7340 BCE ± 1050 years Unknown Confirmed 0 Radiocarbon (corrected) Cerro Tetepetl, Tenango lava flow
7370 BCE ± 300 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected) Tres Cruces
7930 BCE ± 500 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Volcán Pelado

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.

Photo Gallery


Mexico City encroaches onto the Chichinautzin volcanic field, which covers a broad, 1000 sq km area immediately south of the city. Many of the more than 150 small cones in the volcanic field are of Holocene age. Among the larger features of the field seen in this aerial view from the NW are Volcán Ajusco (the brown-colored peak in the center below the skyline) and Cerro Pelado, Cerro Chichinautzin, and Cerro Tláloc to the left. In addition to the Xitle eruption less than 2000 years ago, an eruption of Cerro Chichinautzin was witnessed by local inhabitants.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Ajusco volcano (left-center), the highest peak of the Chichinautzin volcanic field, rises above Mexico City to the south. The Chichinautzin volcanic field covers a broad, 1000 sq km area with more than 150 small cones of mostly Holocene age. One of the youngest eruptions occurred from the Xitle cone about 1670 years ago, producing a massive 3.2 cu km lava flow that covered prehistorical urban centers and agricultural land and is now overlain by the southern part of Mexico City.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Young cinder cones of the Chichinautzin volcanic field appear on the skyline above Mexico City. Many of the more than 150 small cones of the volcanic field are of Holocene age. At least two of the cones erupted less than 2000 years ago, producing lava flows that impacted inhabited areas.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Xitle cinder cone, the large flat-topped cone on the center horizon, is one of the youngest features of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. Xitle erupted about 1670 years ago. Initial ash emission was followed by extrusion of a massive lava flow that traveled 13 km to the north and covered the prehistoric Cuicuilco urban centers and nearby agricultural lands. Portions of Mexico City, including the National University (UNAM), now overlie the lava flow. The Ajusco lava-dome complex appears at the upper right.

Photo by Gerardo Carrasco-Núñez, 1997 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
The SE part of the Chichinautzin volcanic field, seen here from the east on the flanks of the Sierra Nevada, forms a major topographic barrier at the southern end of the Valley of Mexico. Several small shield volcanoes, including Volcán Tláloc, appear on the horizon. The basaltic-andesite shield volcanoes are dotted with pyroclastic cones, some of which were also constructed on the floor of the Valley of Mexico.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1997 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The irregular reddish area in the center of this false-color LANDSAT image is the Tenango lava flow. It was erupted about 8500 years ago from an E-W-trending fracture that also passes through Nevado de Toluca volcano, whose flanks appear at the left. The basaltic-andesite Tenango flow forms a prominent isolated mesa on which the fortified city of Teotenango with its many pyramids and courts was built by the Matlatzinca people about 1000 BCE. The Tenango flow lies at the far western end of the Chichinautzin volcanic field of central México.

LANDSAT image by Michael Abrams, 1996 (courtesy of José Macías, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Cones of the Chichinautzin volcanic field in the foreground and middle distance are seen here in a telephoto view looking to the west from Popocatépetl volcano. The large flat-topped volcano on the left-center horizon is Nevado de Toluca. The broad Chichinautzin volcanic field covers a 90-km-wide area south of the Valley of Mexico between the base of the Sierra Nevada (containing the twin volcanoes of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl) and the eastern flank of Nevado de Toluca volcano.

Photo by José Macías, 1998 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
A wide-angle view of the Chichinautzin volcanic field from the flanks of Popocatépetl volcano shows some of the abundant pyroclastic cones and low shield volcanoes that form the mostly monogenetic field. The massive Chichinautzin volcanic field covers more than 1000 sq km and stretches 90 km in an E-W direction from the eastern base of Nevado de Toluca volcano (the light-colored peak on the left-center horizon) to the western flanks of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes.

Photo by José Macías, 1998 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Five small cinder cones are aligned along a NE-SW trend near the town of Amecameca at the far eastern end of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. The large cone at the lower left is Cerro Chinconquiat, the larger of two cones at middle right is Cerro Tapeixte, and the smaller one at the far right is Cerro La Joya. The ribbed cone at the left immediately above Cerro Chinconquiat is Cerro Tenayo.

Photo by José Macías, 1996 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
The small Xitle cinder cone in the center of the photo, directly below Volcán Ajusco, the large lava-dome complex on the horizon, was the source of a voluminous lava about 1670 years ago. The 3.2 cu km flow traveled 13 km to north and underlies much of the the forested area in the middle of the photo as well as the southern part of Mexico City in the foreground. The flow covered the Preclassic city of Cuicuilco, one of the oldest archaeological sites in central México, and underlies the campus of the National University of México (UNAM).

Photo by José Macías, 1996 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
A symmetrical pyroclastic cone caps Volcán Pelado, a small shield volcano south of Xitle volcano. Pyroclastic flows accompanied the formation of the cone. Volcán Pelado and the nearby Xitle cone, which erupted about 1670 years ago, are among the many Holocene vents of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. Both eruptions affected neighboring settlements.

Photo by Paul Wallace, 1991 (University of California Berkeley).
See title for photo information.
The forest-covered lava flows in the middle of the photo traveled short distances to the south from vents on the flank of Xitle, the scoria cone in the background. Most lava flows were directed by the topographic gradient to the north. Scoria-fall deposits from the 150-m-high Xitle pyroclastic cone mantle the foreground and overlie parts of the lava flows.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Xitle cinder cone, seen here from the SE, is a 150-m-high scoria cone that is one of the youngest of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. The west-flank lava cone of Xicontle, with a 150-m-wide crater, forms the flat ridge left of Xitle. The roughly 1600-year-old eruption began with ash emission that underlies early lava flows. Five flank vents at Xicontle and on other sides of the Xitle cone produced voluminous lava flows that surrounded the scoria cone and traveled up to 13 km to the north, covering 80 sq km.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the National University of México, overlies an about 1600-year-old lava flow from Xitle cinder cone in the Chichinautzin volcanic field. Basaltic lava from Xitle is exposed in the foreground between buildings of the departments of geology and geophysics. Volcanologists and seismologists from the university conduct research on Mexican volcanoes and are involved in monitoring of ongoing eruptions.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Cuicuilco pyramid in the southern part of Mexico City was surrounded by lava flows from Xitle volcano about 1600 years ago. The basaltic flows underlie the area at the right and are exposed in the trench walls around the pyramid. The Preclassic Cuicuilco site is one of the oldest archaeological areas in central México. The earliest occupations date back to 2100-1800 BCE, and the pyramid was constructed about 80-600 BCE, when Cuicuilco had become an important prehispanic city.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Vegetation has been cleared from the surface of a massive lava flow from Xitle volcano to form a park on the campus of the National University of México (UNAM). Fresh-looking pahoehoe textures of the roughly 1600-year-old basaltic lava flow are exposed in the park. The tube-fed flow traveled 13 km from Xitle, a small cinder cone whose summit forms the flat area on the horizon at the left side of Volcán Ajusco, the large lava-dome complex on the left-center horizon.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Pelado is a small symmetrical shield volcano in the eastern part of the Chichinautzin volcanic field that is capped by a pyroclastic cone. Formation of the volcano between about 9260 and 10,500 years ago was accompanied by pyroclastic flows that entrained pottery fragments from nearby settlements. Volcán Pelado lies 10 km south of Xitle, another cinder cone of the Chichinautzin volcanic field that erupted less than 2000 years ago.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Pelado is a pyroclastic cone topping a small symmetrical lava shield SE of Ajusco volcano. The construction of the cone, seen here from the SE, was accompanied by ashflows that traveled to the north, east, and south sides of the volcano. Lava flows erupted from E-W-trending fissures cover an area of about 63 sq km. Pottery shards have been found within the ashflow deposits, indicating that the eruption affected neighboring settlements.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Chichinautzin volcanic field covers an area of more than 1000 sq km in a 90-km-wide, E-W-trending area south of the Valley of Mexico. This view looks SE from the 1600-year-old Xitle cinder cone to Volcán Yololica (the forested scoria cone at the left-center), and on the horizon, Volcán Cuauhtzin (right-center) and Volcán Tlaloc to its left. The name Chichinautzin means Burning Lord in the Nahuatl language, and several eruptions have impacted prehispanic cultures in the Valley of Mexico.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Popocatépetl rises to the SE beyond the Sierra Chichinautzin range, as seen from the summit of Xitle volcano, one of the youngest cones of the Sierra Chichinautzin. The forested flat-topped cinder cone at the right-center is Volcán Yololica. More than 150 small cones blanket the Sierra Chichinautzin; many of these are of Holocene age. The volcanic field includes cinder cones, lava cones, and thick, blocky lava flows that issued from a central vent, such as Xicomulco and Tabaquillo.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Several volcanoes of the Chichinautzin volcanic field can be seen in this aerial photo from the NE. In the left foreground is Volcán Teuhtli, capped at the extreme left with a small pyroclastic cone. The steep-sided lava flow in the center of the photo descending diagonally to the right is the massive andesitic Xicomulco lava flow. Volcán Cuauhtzin, in the background to the right, erupted widespread basaltic and andesitic lava flows. Volcán Ocusacayo (extreme left horizon) is another small shield volcano capped by pyroclastic cones.

Photo by Gerardo Carrasco-Núñez, 1997 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
The massive, steep-sided Xicomulco lava flow descends from the flanks of the Sierra Chichinautzin into the Valley of Mexico. The viscous andesitic lava flow averages 75 m in thickness, displays prominent flow levees, and traveled 4.5 km north. The flow was extruded with very little explosive activity, and lava extrusion covered the vent, which is now overlain by the town of San Bartolo Xicomulco (right-center). In the background is the town of San Pablo Oztotepec. Volcán Tlaloc is the broad shield volcano on the center horizon.

Photo by Gerardo Carrasco-Núñez, 1997 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Pillow lavas from Xitle are exposed near the Cuicuilco Ceremonial Center, Mexico City. It is thought that the basaltic lava flows from Xitle entered into a pond, causing the formation of pillow structures. The possibility that these flow textures indirectly represent "man-made" pillows (entering an artificial pond) is under debate.

Photo by Hugo Delgado, 1997 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Xitle cinder cone, seen here in an aerial view from the NE with Ajusco volcano in the background, is one of the youngest cones of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. The small cinder cone is 150 m high and has a funnel-shaped crater that is 350 m wide and 115 m deep. Xitle (also known as Xicti) means belly button in the Nahuatl language, a reference to the shape of the cone and its crater. Xitle erupted less than 2000 years ago. Volcán Ajusco is a Pliocene-Pleistocene lava-dome complex surrounded by block-and-ash flow deposits.

Photo by Hugo Delgado, 1995 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Tláloc, the broad volcano on the horizon, is a low-angle shield volcano that is one of the larger volcanic centers of the eastern part of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. It is seen here from the east, with a massive steep-sided lava flow in the foreground. Tláloc erupted about 6200 years ago, and the youthful morphology of the flow reflects its age. Several viscous andesitic lava flows of the Chichinautzin volcanic field were extruded with very little explosive activity, and lack pyroclastic cones above their vents.

Photo by Hugo Delgado, 1994 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Xico is a low circular tuff ring within Mexico City that is part of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. It is seen here in an aerial view from the south. This volcano was formed by phreatomagmatic eruptions through the middle of Lake Chalco, whose remains can be seen surrounding the tuff ring. Chalco and Lakes Texcoco and Xochimilco were formed when lavas from the Chichinautzin volcanic field blocked river drainages to the south. The lakes were largely drained during the 16th and 17th centuries following the Spanish conquest.

Photo by Hugo Delgado, 1994 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Monogenetic volcanic cones of the Chichinautzin volcanic field lie below the western flanks of Iztaccíhuatl volcano. These cones, including Cerro Tenayo at the lower left, lie at the easternmost extension of the 90-km-wide Chichinautzin volcanic field south of the Valley of Mexico. The compound Iztaccíhuatl volcano is mostly Pleistocene in age.

Photo by Hugo Delgado, 1994 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Ajusco, the highest peak of the Chichinautzin volcanic field, is seen here from the summit of the Xitle scoria cone, NE of the volcano. The Pliocene-Pleistocene Ajusco consists of andesitic-to-dacitic lava domes surrounded by block-and-ash flows. During the Pleistocene the NE flank of Ajusco collapsed, producing a debris avalanche that traveled 16 km. Late-stage eruptions produced more mafic lava flows from flank vents, marking a transition to the monogenetic volcanism of the Chichinautzin volcanic field.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1998 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The brownish, forested area extending from the middle right almost across the broad valley floor is the Texcal lava flow. This lava flow, which traveled 24 km to the south onto the Cuernavaca plain, was erupted about 4200 years ago from the Guespalapa cinder cone. Unlike the Pelado or Chichinautzin eruptions, the Guespalapa eruption did not produce a small shield volcano, but rather one of the longest lava flows of the Sierra Chichinautzin.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2004 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The 3450-m-high Cuauhtzin lava dome (right horizon), capping a low lava shield north of the crest of the Sierra Chichinautzin, was formed between about 7360 and 8225 radiocarbon years ago. Dacitic lava flows and block-and-ash flow deposits surround the dome. Cuauhtzin means "seat of the eagle" in the Nahuatl language. Snow-capped Iztaccihuatl volcano lies on the left horizon.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2004 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The broad forested ridge in the center of this photo is the Tenango lava flow, which was erupted about 8500 radiocarbon years ago from an E-W-trending fissure at the western margin of the Chichinautzin volcanic field. The basaltic-andesite Tenango flow forms a prominent isolated mesa on which the fortified city of Teotenango with its many pyramids and courts was built by the Matlatzinca people about 1000 BCE.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2004 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 3 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 117276-5 Lava
NMNH 117276-7 Lava
NMNH 117276-8 Poorly-sorted pyroclastic-rock

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