Tecapa

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 13.494°N
  • 88.502°W

  • 1593 m
    5225 ft

  • 343080
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: May 1985 (SEAN 10:05) Citation IconCite this Report


Earthquake swarm at historically inactive volcano

"An earthquake swarm occurred by surface faulting on 21 April in the Chinameca Complex, near Tecapa, a volcano with no known historic eruption. A magnitude 4.7 (mb) earthquake, the largest so far, occurred on 23 April . . . . Four days later, 27 April, during the peak activity (in terms of numbers of recorded and felt events per day), an 8 km-long graben formed on the NW flank of the volcano. The N40°W-striking graben is 0.8-1 km wide, with a vertical offset of 30 cm. Through 6 June, 170 earthquakes were felt in the area. A very preliminary analysis of the earthquake location data implies that activity began on a tectonic fault some 15 km NW of the volcanic summit, and moved nearer to the volcano at the time the graben formed. Since 3 June, 5-20 earthquakes per day were recorded by a high-gain seismograph station 50 km from the volcano, down from 300 events per day on 26, 27, and 28 April, and 21 and 23 May."

Information Contacts: J. González, Centro de Investigaciones Geotécnicas, San Salvador; D. Harlow, USGS.

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

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.

05/1985 (SEAN 10:05) Earthquake swarm at historically inactive volcano




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


May 1985 (SEAN 10:05) Citation IconCite this Report


Earthquake swarm at historically inactive volcano

"An earthquake swarm occurred by surface faulting on 21 April in the Chinameca Complex, near Tecapa, a volcano with no known historic eruption. A magnitude 4.7 (mb) earthquake, the largest so far, occurred on 23 April . . . . Four days later, 27 April, during the peak activity (in terms of numbers of recorded and felt events per day), an 8 km-long graben formed on the NW flank of the volcano. The N40°W-striking graben is 0.8-1 km wide, with a vertical offset of 30 cm. Through 6 June, 170 earthquakes were felt in the area. A very preliminary analysis of the earthquake location data implies that activity began on a tectonic fault some 15 km NW of the volcanic summit, and moved nearer to the volcano at the time the graben formed. Since 3 June, 5-20 earthquakes per day were recorded by a high-gain seismograph station 50 km from the volcano, down from 300 events per day on 26, 27, and 28 April, and 21 and 23 May."

Information Contacts: J. González, Centro de Investigaciones Geotécnicas, San Salvador; D. Harlow, USGS.

Eruptive History


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


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1878 Oct 2 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    

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 summit of Tecapa volcano contain a 600-m-wide crater lake, Laguna de Alegría. The 0.9 x 1.3 km wide crater, seen here from the west, is elongated in an E-W direction and lies about 300 m below the summit.

Photo by Kristal Dorion, 1994 (U.S. Geological Survey).
See title for photo information.
A drill rig towers above a well site at the Berlín geothermal area. The first exploratory well at Berlín was drilled in 1966 by the government of El Salvador, with assistance from the United Nations. Feasibility studies in the early 1980s were halted by the civil war, and production testing of wells was not completed until 1987. The first two 5 MW power plants came on line in 1992, and 25 MW wells at the Berlín 2 site went into operation in 1998 and 1999.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
See title for photo information.
Steam clouds rise above El Tronador, a natural fumarole along the lushly vegetated slopes of the Berlín geothermal area. El Tronador fumarole has measured temperatures of 105-107 degrees Centigrade and begins condensing within 5 m of the fumarolic vent. The intensity of fumarolic activity at Tecapa has not varied during historical time.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
See title for photo information.
The Berlín geothermal area in the center foreground is viewed from the SE on the flanks of the Tecapa massif. The Pan-American highway traverses the base of the Tertiary volcanoes of Cerro Sihuatepeque (center) and Cerro Palacios (left) across the Río Lempa in the background. The Berlín geothermal field is one of 7 areas of geothermal investigation in El Salvador.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
See title for photo information.
Laguna de Apastepeque in the foreground is one of two lake-filled phreatic explosion craters in the Apastepeque volcanic field. The broad range in the distance on the right-hand horizon to the SE is the Tecapa massif. At the far right is the sharp peak of Volcán Taburete. San Miguel volcano can be seen on the left-center horizon behind the ridge in the middle ground.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1994 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
See title for photo information.
Laguna de Alegría is seen here from the summit of Tecapa volcano, looking SE with the town of Santiago de María in the background. The 600-m-wide crater lake lies about 300 m below the summit. Santiago de María is situated at the eastern end of the Tecapa volcanic complex, on the 900-m-high saddle between it and Cerro El Tigre volcano. The slopes of the young cone of Cerro Oromontique, constructed on the flank of El Tigre volcano along a NW-SE-trending fissure between Tecapa and El Tigre, rise immediately to the right of the town.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1994 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
See title for photo information.
A westward view down the axis of a cluster of volcanoes between San Miguel and San Vicente volcanoes shows the eroded Pleistocene Cerro el Tigre volcano at the left and flat-topped Tecapa volcano to its right. San Vicente volcano can be seen in the far right distance.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
See title for photo information.
Steam pours from twin silencer towers at the Berlín 2 geothermal site. Geothermal fluids can flow from a well at the speed of sound, which resembles that of a jet engine to the field crew. The silencer drops the sound to a dull roar. Two 25 MW power plants came on line at Berlín 2 in 1998 and 1999. The two plants utilize both production and reinjection wells, and were expected (after operating and financial expenses) to save $56,000 in fuel costs per day.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL), 1992.
See title for photo information.
Steam clouds pour from the Berlín 2 well. The Berlín geothermal field on the NW flank of the Tecapa volcanic complex is one of the largest in El Salvador. The Berlín 2 site has an installed capacity of 55 MW with a potential of 55-150 MW. Measured well temperatures ranged from 240-300 degrees Centigrade.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
See title for photo information.
A night-time view shows a drill site at the Berlín geothermal area on the NW flank of Tecapa volcano. The Berlín Boca Pozo 1 site has an installed capacity of 10 MW and came on line in 1991. The El Tronador site began commercial operation in 1992 and generated 8 MW of power.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
See title for photo information.
The peak of Loma San Juan (left-center) lies along the northern crater rim of Laguna de Alegría, a crater lake at the summit of Tecapa volcano. Solfataras found along the rim of the crater lake have a maximum temperature of 94 degrees Centigrade. An area of hydrothermally altered clay containing up to 45 percent sulfur is found around the crater lake.

Photo by Giuseppina Kysar, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Tecapa is a complex stratovolcano at the NW end of a cluster of volcanoes in eastern El Salvador between San Vicente and San Miguel volcanoes. It is seen here from the west, across the Río Lempa, which is hidden behind the flat area in the foreground. The peaks on the far left horizon lie behind the Berlín caldera, whose rim is visible on the west side of the complex. The Tecapa volcanic complex currently displays fumarolic activity, and a producing geothermal plant is located at the Berlín geothermal field.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Tecapa volcanic complex (left) and Volcan Taburete (right) are separated by a 800-m-high saddle. They are seen here from the SW rising more than 1100 m above the Pacific coastal plain and lie at the eastern end of a volcanic chain reaching to San Miguel volcano. A relatively young lava flow is found on the southern flank of Taburete volcano, although its age is not known precisely. Fumarolic activity continues at Tecapa, the site of a major geothermal project.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
Rounded Volcan Taburete (left) and the compound Tecapa volcanic massif rise to the NW above the Pacific coastal plain of El Salvador. The small cone of Loma Pacha on the lower SE flank of Taburete (visible in the center of the image) produced a thick lava flow that traveled to SE. The rounded peak at the extreme right is Cerro Oromontique, a cone erupted along a NW-SE-trending fissure on the flank of El Tigre volcano.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The Tecapa volcanic complex (left) and Volcán Taburete (right) rise to the east across the Río Lempa, which is hidden beyond the slope in the foreground. These peaks lie at the western end of the 40-km-long Tecapa-San Miguel volcano cluster in eastern El Salvador. Ignimbrites from a caldera-forming eruption at Tecapa reached across the Río Lempa.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The twin summits of San Vicente volcano form one of El Salvador's most prominent natural landmarks. Fresh scarps from landslides produced during the January 2001 earthquake scar the flanks of the volcano. The San Vicente area and towns at the foot of the volcano were particularly hard hit by the tectonic earthquake and suffered extensive damage. The Tecapa volcanic complex and conical San Miguel volcano rise in the distance.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
An E-W-trending chain of volcanoes extends ca. 30 km across eastern El Salvador. The small light-colored dot at the left is Laguna de Alegria, a crater of the Tecapa volcanic complex. No historical eruptions are known from the eroded Usulután and El Tigre volcanoes. The 2-km-wide Laguna Seca el Pacayal caldera is a prominent feature of Chinameca volcano. San Miguel is one of El Salvador's most active volcanoes; the dark area at the lower right is a lava flow from the 1819 eruption. The city of San Miguel is at the upper right.

NASA Space Shuttle image STS61C-31-47, 1986 (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


There are no samples for Tecapa in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences Rock and Ore collection.

Affiliated Sites