El Misti

Photo of this volcano
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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 16.294°S
  • 71.409°W

  • 5822 m
    19096 ft

  • 354010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Weekly Report: 18 June-24 June 2014


Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) reported that, during the last 12 months, seismicity at El Misti was dominated by volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes. Two seismic swarms (more than 100 events per day) occurred during the last three months, on 19 May and 3 June. An increase in tremor was noted in April, although the total duration did not exceed 10 minutes and was generally low-amplitude. Long-period seismicity was not significant. In the last 15 days, seismicity increased slightly and tremor was recorded daily.

Source: Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP)


Most Recent Bulletin Report: July 2013 (BGVN 38:07)


Generally quiet; 1st small seismic swarm in 5 years during August 2012

Since the last strong eruption in the 15th century, El Misti has experienced infrequent small explosions, some of which were probably merely heightened fumarolic activity. Our most recent reports discussed a steam emission in April 1984 (SEAN 09:05) and vigorous fumarolic activity during 7-8 August 1985 (SEAN 10:12). Weak fumaroles are occasionally detected at the summit area. This report presents basic background and some available recent seismic data through June 2013. Misti's location and its relationship with the nearby city of Arequipa is presented in figures 1-3.

Figure 1. These Google Earth images highlight the locations of El Misti and major surrounding landmarks. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Figure 2. A mosaic of two astronaut photographs of Misti and the nearby town of Arequipa, Peru, taken on 16 October 2009. The city center of Arequipa is only 17 km SW of Misti's summit. According to NASA, the urban area is bordered by green agricultural fields in the image. The channel in the image NW of the volcano is the Chili River. Arequipa is the second most populous city in Peru, with about one million residents. Courtesy of NASA.
Figure 3. Hazard-zone map for El Misti based on the VEI 4 Plinian eruption that took place about 2030 years ago. Note that the entire city of Arequipa is vulnerable to pyroclastic surges, and areas closest to the volcano would be at high risk even for small- and medium-sized events. Courtesy of Cobeñasa and others (2012).

According to Thouret and others (2001), the maximum fumarole temperature at the lava plug, measured in December 1997, was 220°C.

The Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP) reports on its website that Misti has been monitored daily in real time since 2005 through a network of five seismic stations. Earthquake data for the most recent one-week period is displayed on its website. For example, between 29 April and 5 May 2013, Misti experienced 21 long-period (LP) earthquakes and 163 volcanic-tectonic (VT) earthquakes; between 8-14 July 2013, the volcano experienced 28 LP earthquakes and 104 VT earthquakes.

A news account (El Comercio) on 28 August 2012 said the IGP had detected a small seismic swarm during the previous week, the first such swarm in more than five years. During that week, 224 total earthquakes were recorded, 143 of which were VT.

References. Cobeñasa, G., Thouret, J., Bonadonnab, C., and , Boivina, P., 2012, The c.2030 yr BP Plinian eruption of El Misti volcano, Peru: Eruption dynamics and hazard implications: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 241-242, p. 105-120.

Thouret, J., Finizola, A., Fornari, M., Legeley-Padovani, A., Suni, J., Frechen, M., 2001, Geology of El Misti volcano near the city of Arequipa, Peru: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 113, iss. 12, p. 1593-1610.

Information Contacts: Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP)(URL: http://www.igp.gob.pe/); El Comercio (URL: http://elcomercio.pe/); and Inca Trail Reservations (URL: http://incatrailreservations.com/).

Index of Weekly Reports


2014: January | June

Weekly Reports


18 June-24 June 2014

Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) reported that, during the last 12 months, seismicity at El Misti was dominated by volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes. Two seismic swarms (more than 100 events per day) occurred during the last three months, on 19 May and 3 June. An increase in tremor was noted in April, although the total duration did not exceed 10 minutes and was generally low-amplitude. Long-period seismicity was not significant. In the last 15 days, seismicity increased slightly and tremor was recorded daily.

Source: Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP)


15 January-21 January 2014

Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) reported that seismicity at El Misti increased during January, and a seismic swarm consisting of 119 volcano-tectonic events was detected during 14-15 January. Despite the increase, activity remained at a low level.

Source: Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP)


Index of Bulletin Reports


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.

05/1984 (SEAN 09:05) Increased vapor emission

12/1985 (SEAN 10:12) New summit crater fumaroles

07/2013 (BGVN 38:07) Generally quiet; 1st small seismic swarm in 5 years during August 2012




Bulletin Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.


05/1984 (SEAN 09:05) Increased vapor emission

"An increase in the normal emission of vapor from the volcano has been noted since the beginning of April. At times the column rose to about 1 km above the crater and was ejected from the dome (150 m in diameter) that is about 250 m below the outer rim of the crater. A temperature of 125°C has been registered for some years in the dome's fumarolic fissures. [At the dome, blocks of andesite are covered with sulfur, gypsum, anhydrite, and ralstonite.]

"It is possible that this increase in vapor (no such increase had been noted since April 1971) is caused by the evaporation of water from the rains which have been intense this year and abundant for 3 months, January-March. As the rains ended and the clouds disappeared, the impressive and sometimes intermittent vapor column from the volcano was visible from Arequipa (1,000,000 inhabitants including the suburbs). It cannot be excluded that a notable increase in natural degassing has also been occurring, in combination with the evaporation of atmospheric water.

"Persons who intended to go to the bottom of the crater 29 April to collect samples were prevented from doing so because gases irritated noses, throats, and eyes. They said that they also observed flaring, perhaps caused by the combustion of hydrogen or other gases.

"The Observatorio de Chacarato of the Instituto Geofísico, Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa (10 km from the city and about 20 km from the volcano's crater) equipped with seismographs and magnetometers, had not registered any changes as of 8 May that could be attributed to perturbations of volcanic origin." . . .

Information Contacts: A. Parodi Isolabella, Arequipa.

12/1985 (SEAN 10:12) New summit crater fumaroles

Inside the SE rim of El Misti's [690 x 935]-m summit crater is a younger cinder cone, about [545] m wide at the top and having an inner crater [198] m deep, with a flat floor [158] m across. On 7 and 8 August geologists observed vigorous fumaroles, which had not been active a few months earlier, on the N side of the cinder cone floor. High-pressure degassing, as "noisy as a reaction motor," emitted white-gray vapor from 6 vents. There were red sulfur deposits inside the vents, yellow sulfur outside them. Fumaroles were still visible on the N rim of the crater.

The last strong eruption of El Misti occurred between 1438 and 1471 (the reign of the Inca Pachacutec); several weeks of vigorous tephra emission forced residents of the region to flee. Several smaller explosive eruptions have been reported since then, but some were probably only periods of increased fumarolic activity [such as reports from 1878, 1901, 1906, 1929, 1949, and 1971].

Information Contacts: M. Decobecq Dominique, Univ. Paris Sud, Orsay, France.

07/2013 (BGVN 38:07) Generally quiet; 1st small seismic swarm in 5 years during August 2012

Since the last strong eruption in the 15th century, El Misti has experienced infrequent small explosions, some of which were probably merely heightened fumarolic activity. Our most recent reports discussed a steam emission in April 1984 (SEAN 09:05) and vigorous fumarolic activity during 7-8 August 1985 (SEAN 10:12). Weak fumaroles are occasionally detected at the summit area. This report presents basic background and some available recent seismic data through June 2013. Misti's location and its relationship with the nearby city of Arequipa is presented in figures 1-3.

Figure 1. These Google Earth images highlight the locations of El Misti and major surrounding landmarks. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Figure 2. A mosaic of two astronaut photographs of Misti and the nearby town of Arequipa, Peru, taken on 16 October 2009. The city center of Arequipa is only 17 km SW of Misti's summit. According to NASA, the urban area is bordered by green agricultural fields in the image. The channel in the image NW of the volcano is the Chili River. Arequipa is the second most populous city in Peru, with about one million residents. Courtesy of NASA.
Figure 3. Hazard-zone map for El Misti based on the VEI 4 Plinian eruption that took place about 2030 years ago. Note that the entire city of Arequipa is vulnerable to pyroclastic surges, and areas closest to the volcano would be at high risk even for small- and medium-sized events. Courtesy of Cobeñasa and others (2012).

According to Thouret and others (2001), the maximum fumarole temperature at the lava plug, measured in December 1997, was 220°C.

The Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP) reports on its website that Misti has been monitored daily in real time since 2005 through a network of five seismic stations. Earthquake data for the most recent one-week period is displayed on its website. For example, between 29 April and 5 May 2013, Misti experienced 21 long-period (LP) earthquakes and 163 volcanic-tectonic (VT) earthquakes; between 8-14 July 2013, the volcano experienced 28 LP earthquakes and 104 VT earthquakes.

A news account (El Comercio) on 28 August 2012 said the IGP had detected a small seismic swarm during the previous week, the first such swarm in more than five years. During that week, 224 total earthquakes were recorded, 143 of which were VT.

References. Cobeñasa, G., Thouret, J., Bonadonnab, C., and , Boivina, P., 2012, The c.2030 yr BP Plinian eruption of El Misti volcano, Peru: Eruption dynamics and hazard implications: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 241-242, p. 105-120.

Thouret, J., Finizola, A., Fornari, M., Legeley-Padovani, A., Suni, J., Frechen, M., 2001, Geology of El Misti volcano near the city of Arequipa, Peru: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 113, iss. 12, p. 1593-1610.

Information Contacts: Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP)(URL: http://www.igp.gob.pe/); El Comercio (URL: http://elcomercio.pe/); and Inca Trail Reservations (URL: http://incatrailreservations.com/).

El Misti, Peru's most well-known volcano, is a symmetrical andesitic stratovolcano with nested summit craters that towers above the city of Arequipa. The modern symmetrical cone, constructed within a small 1.5 x 2 km wide summit caldera that formed between about 13,700 and 11,300 years ago, caps older Pleistocene volcanoes that underwent caldera collapse about 50,000 years ago. A large scoria cone has grown with the 830-m-wide outer summit crater of El Misti. At least 20 tephra-fall deposits and numerous pyroclastic-flow deposits have been documented during the past 50,000 years, including a pyroclastic flow that traveled 12 km to the south about 2000 years ago. El Misti's most recent activity has been dominantly pyroclastic, and strong winds have formed a parabolic dune field of volcanic ash extending up to 20 km downwind. An eruption in the 15th century affected Inca inhabitants living near the volcano. Some reports of historical eruptions may represent increased fumarolic activity.

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

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1985 Unknown Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
[ 1870 Mar ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1869 Sep ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1831 Aug ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1830 Aug ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1826 Aug ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
1787 Jul 28 1787 Oct 10 Confirmed 1 Historical Observations
1784 Jul 9 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1677 May 2 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1599 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
[ 1542 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
1454 ± 16 years Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1350 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0760 ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0090 ± 300 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
0080 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed 4 Radiocarbon (corrected)
0310 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
2230 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
3510 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
4020 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
5390 BCE ± 75 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)
7190 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (corrected)

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.


Synonyms

San Fransisco | Volcan, El | Arequipa, Volcan de | Guagua-Putina
El Misti, Perú's best known volcano, is a symmetrical stratovolcano that towers above the city of Arequipa. It is seen here from the west at the margin of Arequipa's airport. The modern symmetrical cone has a small, 1.5-km-wide summit caldera containing nested craters. It caps an older Pleistocene volcano that collapsed, producing debris avalanches to the west and SW. El Misti's most recent activity has been dominantly pyroclastic. Historical eruptions date back to the 15th century.

Photo by Norm Banks, 1988 (U.S. Geological Survey).
The Río Chillos on the NW side of El Misti volcano has excavated a steep-walled canyon that cuts the lower flanks of the volcano. The NW flank of El Misti is somewhat dissected, in contrast to smoother slopes on other sides. Prevailing winds have distributed a thick ashfall blanket to the NE that mantles the distal margins of youthful lava flows.

Photo by Norm Banks, 1987 (U.S. Geological Survey).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Bullard F M, 1962. Volcanoes of Southern Peru. Bull Volc, 24: 443-453.

de Silva S L, Francis P W, 1990. Potentially active volcanoes of Peru - observations using Landsat Thematic Mapper and Space Shuttle imagery. Bull Volc, 52: 286-301.

de Silva S L, Francis P W, 1991. Volcanoes of the Central Andes. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 216 p.

Finizola A, Lenat J-F, Macedo O, Ramos D, Thouret J-C, Sortino F, 2004. Fluid circulation and structural discontinuities inside Misti volcano (Peru) inferred from self-potential measurements. J Volc Geotherm Res, 135: 343-360.

Gonzalez-Ferran O, 1995. Volcanes de Chile. Santiago: Instituto Geografico Militar, 635 p.

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

Hantke G, Parodi I, 1966. Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 19: 1-73.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Legros F, 2001. Tephra stratigraphy of Misti volcano, Peru. J South Amer Earth Sci, 14: 15-29.

Parodi-I A, 1979. . (pers. comm.).

Ruprecht P, Worner G, 2007. Variable regimes in magma systems documented in plagioclast zoning patterns: El Misti stratovolcano and Andahua monogenetic cones. J Volc Geotherm Res, 165: 142-162.

Thouret J-C, Finizola A, Fornari M, Legeley-Padovani A, Suni J, Frechen M, 2001. Geology of El Misti volcano near the city of Arequipa, Peru. Geol Soc Amer Bull, 113: 1593-1610.

Tort A, Finizola A, 2005. The buried caldera of Misti volcano, Peru, revealed by combining a self-potential survey with elliptic Fourier function analysis of topography. J Volc Geotherm Res, 141: 283-297.

Wilson C J N, Houghton B F, Kamp P J J, McWilliams M O, 1995b. An exceptionally widespread ignimbrite with implications for pyroclastic flow emplacement. Nature, 378: 605-607.

Volcano Types

Stratovolcano
Caldera
Pyroclastic cone

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types

Major
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Dacite
Rhyolite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
82
1,507
918,280
1,052,408

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of El Misti 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).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.