Acatenango

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 14.501°N
  • 90.876°W

  • 3976 m
    13041 ft

  • 342080
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: March 1981 (SEAN 06:03) Citation IconCite this Report


No visible fumarolic activity; strong sulfur odor near sumit craters

Geologists visited the summit 16, 17, and 18 February. There was no visible fumarolic activity around the summit, or in the explosion craters from the volcano's last eruption in 1972. The geologists smelled a strong sulfur odor in the immediate vicinity of the summit craters.

Information Contacts: T. Bornhorst and C. Chesner, Michigan Tech. Univ.

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

Bulletin Reports - Index


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

12/1972 (CSLP 94-72) Eruption from three central vents in mid-November; first activity since 1927

03/1981 (SEAN 06:03) No visible fumarolic activity; strong sulfur odor near sumit craters




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


December 1972 (CSLP 94-72)


Eruption from three central vents in mid-November; first activity since 1927

Card 1513 (19 December 1972) Eruption from three central vents in mid-November; first activity since 1927

R. Stoiber reported the following on 18 December 1972. "The volcano Acatenango started erupting on approximately 13 November 1972 for the first time since 19 May 1927. Ascents by Dartmouth teams have documented a deepened crater and five active vents located in the saddle between the two peaks of Acatenago. These vents are situated on the N-S line along the axis of the peaks of Acatenango and the adjacent volcano Fuego. On 5 December 1972 the three central vents were ejecting, steam, ash, and gases included H2S and SO2. Five to 10 cm of ash covers the summit area. No ash had fallen outside this zone. New white sublimates, possibly gypsum, were noted. A prior ascent on 30 October 1972 had revealed only weak fumarolic activity. Observations continue."

Information Contacts: Samuel Bonis, Instituto Geografico Nacional, Guatemala; Richard Stoiber, Dartmouth College, USA


March 1981 (SEAN 06:03) Citation IconCite this Report


No visible fumarolic activity; strong sulfur odor near sumit craters

Geologists visited the summit 16, 17, and 18 February. There was no visible fumarolic activity around the summit, or in the explosion craters from the volcano's last eruption in 1972. The geologists smelled a strong sulfur odor in the immediate vicinity of the summit craters.

Information Contacts: T. Bornhorst and C. Chesner, Michigan Tech. Univ.

Eruptive History


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


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1972 Nov 12 1972 Dec Confirmed 1 Historical Observations Pico Central-Yepocapa saddle
1926 Aug 1927 May 19 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Pico Central
1924 Dec 18 1925 Jun 7 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations North slope of Pico Central
1450 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Anthropology
0090 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Pico Central
0260 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Pico Central
0370 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Pico Central
2710 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) Yepocapa

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


The Acatenango-Fuego complex is seen here from the NW. A steam plume drifts from the summit of Fuego (right), beyond the twin peaks of Acatenango (center). Like other N-S-trending volcanic chains in the Guatemalan highlands, activity at the Acatenango-Fuego chain migrated to the south. Yepocapa, the northernmost summit of Acatenango, was active from about 70,000 to 20,000 years ago, after which Acatenango's still-active northern Pico Central was constructed. The frequently active Fuego volcano grew during the Holocene.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Morning sun lights the upper SE flanks of the twin volcanoes of Fuego (left) and Acatenango (right), whose summits lie only 3 km apart along a N-S line. The modern Fuego volcano was constructed within a scarp left by collapse of the ancestral Mesata volcano, whose slopes appear to the right of the summit towards the saddle with Acatenango. In contrast to the dominantly andesitic Acatenango volcano, Fuego's activity has become more mafic with time, and historical eruptions have produced basaltic lava flows and tephras.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Fuego (left) and Acatenango are two of several paired volcanoes in Guatemala. Southward-younging volcanism constructed these two large stratovolcanoes and flank vents perpendicular to the trend of the Guatemalan volcanic front. The chemistry of lavas also varied progressively from dominantly andesitic at Acatenango to increasingly basaltic at Fuego. Activity from the Pleistocene-Holocene Acatenango has continued only sporadically into historical time, but Fuego is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala, with about 60 historical eruptions.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Three conical stratovolcanoes tower more than 3500 m above the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. Acatenango volcano, the highest of the three, rises to 3976 m altitude and is Guatemala's third highest peak, exceeded only by Tacaná and Tajumulco. A small steam plume pours from the summit of Fuego, Acatenango's twin volcano and one of Guatemala's most active. Volcán de Agua ("Water Volcano") at the extreme right rises above a low saddle between it and Volcán de Fuego ("Fire Volcano").

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The hummocky surface in the foreground in front of the twin volcanoes of Fuego and Acatenango in Guatemala is a massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit produced by collapse of the volcanic complex sometime during the late-Pleistocene to early Holocene. The avalanche, the largest known in Guatemala, has an estimated volume of about 15 cu km and traveled about 50 km. The avalanche traveled for its last 30 km over flat Pacific coastal plain slopes of less than 1 degree, illustrating the extremely high mobility of volcanic debris avalanches.

Photo by Jim Vallance, 1989 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
The twin volcanoes of Fuego (left) and Acatenango are seen here from the SSE. The two volcanoes consist of four major vents that were constructed along a 5-km-long N-S line, with the focus of volcanic activity progressively shifting to the south. The modern Fuego volcano is constructed within the scarp left by the collapse of an older volcano, Mesata, located between it and Acatenango.

Copyrighted photo by Stephen O'Meara, 1994.
See title for photo information.
The twin cones of 3763-m-high Fuego and 3976-m-high Acatenango, seen here from the SE, were constructed along a N-S line. The focus of volcanic activity at these paired volcanoes has migrated to the south. Construction of Acatenango volcano was completed prior to the formation of Fuego volcano, although their activity has in part overlapped. The prominent gully on the righthand side of Fuego is the rim of a scarp produced by the collapse of Meseta volcano, which preceded the growth of the modern cone of Fuego.

Copyrighted photo by Stephen O'Meara, 1994.
See title for photo information.
A thick sequence of tephra layers, mostly from Acatenango, is exposed on the volcano's northern flank. Yepocapa, the northernmost of the two volcanic centers forming Acatenango, was formed between about 70,000 and 43,000 years ago. Its major period of eruptive activity ended about 20,000 years ago, after which Pico Central, the southernmost center, began growing.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1987 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
A tephra layer from Acatenango volcano is exposed NE of the volcano along the road between Antigua and Yepocapa. Pottery fragments within the tephra layer were dated between 1400 and 1500 CE. Most Holocene eruptions from Acatenango originated from Pico Central, the southernmost and highest of the volcano's twin peaks. The scale bar marks 10 cm intervals.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
An elongated crater cuts the northern flank of Pico Central (also known as Pico Mayor), the summit of Acatenango volcano. The first well-documented historical eruption of Acatenango took place from this north-flank vent beginning December 18, 1924. The eruption continued until June 7, 1925. On March 14, 1925 ash fell as far away as Pochuta.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1980 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
The barren slopes of Fuego volcano are seen here in an aerial view from the SE with its twin volcano, Acatenango, at the upper right. As with other Guatemalan paired volcanoes, activity began at the northern center, farthest away from the Central American trench (100 km to the south), and subsequently migrated to the south. Fuego, at the southern end, is one of the country's youngest and most active volcanoes.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
Acatenango (right) forms a twin volcano with Fuego (center). This view from the NE shows the twin summits of Volcán Acatenango, which was constructed during three eruptive periods post-dating the roughly 84,000-year-old Los Chocoyos Ash from Atitlán caldera. Construction of Yepocapa, the northern summit of Acatenango, was completed about 20,000 years ago. Growth of the southern and highest cone, Pico Central (also known as Pico Mayor), began at that time.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1986 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
In contrast to their northern flanks, which rise above higher dissected topography of the Guatemalan highlands, the southern flanks of Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes tower more than 3500 m above farmlands of the Pacific coastal plain. Edifice failure of these volcanoes has occurred in the unbuttressed direction of the coastal plain, producing major debris avalanches that swept as far as 50 km from the volcanoes.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1970 (Michigan Technological University).
See title for photo information.
Of the four major Guatemalan volcanoes in this photo, only conical Agua volcano (right-center horizon) has not erupted during historical time. Lava flows from MacKenney cone (forming the slope in the left foreground) have filled in the moat of the caldera of Pacaya volcano almost to the level of the lower crater rim of Cerro Chino (right-center foreground), whose summit bristles with communication antennas. The twin volcanoes on the left horizon are Fuego (left), one of the most active in Guatemala, and Acatenango (right).

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The flanks of Pacaya volcano provide a spectacular vista of the twin volcanoes of Fuego and Acatenango (left) and conical Agua volcano (right). Despite its youthful profile, Agua has not erupted in historical time. These impressive volcanoes all exceed 3500 m in elevation and rise from near sea level on the Pacific coastal plain to the south. Volcanism at the Acatenango-Fuego pair has migrated to the south, and Fuego, its summit kept free of vegetation by frequent eruptions, is one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 1 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 117395-7 Lava

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