Purico Complex

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  • Chile
  • South America
  • Pyroclastic shield
  • Unknown - Undated Evidence
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 23°S
  • 67.75°W

  • 5703 m
    18706 ft

  • 355094
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Purico Complex.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Purico Complex.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Purico Complex.

Geological Background

The Purico volcanic complex consists of two ignimbrite sheets, separated by a short erosional interval, that were erupted about 1.3 million years ago, along with several stratovolcanoes and lava domes that define a postulated 10 x 20 km ring fracture. Cerro Toco volcano overlies the vent area of the Cajón Ignimbrite and a sulfur mine on its SE flank was mined until the early 1990s. The youngest lava domes, Cerro Chascón de Purico and Cerro Aspero are of Holocene age (de Silva and Francis, 1991). Both domes differ morphologically from many other flat-topped silicic Andean volcanic domes and have 300-400 m high conical profiles. Cerro Chascón was formed by a series of viscous lava flows, whereas Cerro Aspero appears to be a single Pelean-type dome. The Chascón de Purico dacitic dome rising 1200 m above the ignimbrite shield has a well-preserved summit crater and lava flows that show no evidence of glacial modification. The dacitic-to-andesitic Macon stratovolcano of Holocene age lies at the southern end of the complex, and the Alitar maar at the SE end displays constant solfataric activity.

The Global Volcanism Program is not aware of any Holocene eruptions from Purico Complex. If this volcano has had large eruptions (VEI >= 4) prior to 10,000 years ago, information might be found on the Purico Complex page in the LaMEVE (Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions) database, a part of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).

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.


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Macon, Cerros de Stratovolcano 5130 m 23° 2' 0" S 67° 49' 0" W
Toco, Cerro Stratovolcano 5604 m 22° 57' 0" S 67° 47' 0" W


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Alitar Maar 5346 m 23° 9' 0" S 67° 38' 0" W


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Agua Amarga, Cerro Dome 5058 m 23° 1' 0" S 67° 43' 0" W
Aspero, Cerro Dome 5262 m 23° 5' 0" S 67° 42' 0" W
Chajnantor, Cerro
    Cerrillo, Cerro el
Dome 5639 m 22° 59' 0" S 67° 44' 0" W
Chascón, Cerro el
    Chascón de Purico
Dome 5703 m 23° 1' 0" S 67° 41' 0" W
Negro, Cerro Dome 5016 m 23° 1' 0" S 67° 51' 0" W
Putas, Cerro Dome 5462 m 23° 6' 0" S 67° 43' 0" W

Photo Gallery

Erosional furrows cut outflow sheets of Pleistocene ignimbrites of the Purico Complex that were erupted from a postulated 10 x 20 km ring fracture. The light-colored dome at the top center is Pleistocene in age, but the youngest lava domes, Cerro Chascón de Purico (center) and Cerro Aspero (the small dome at the bottom center) are of Pleistocene-Holocene age. The dacitic-to-andesitic Macon stratovolcano of Holocene age lies at the SW end of the complex (far left-center). The Guayaques volcanic chain lies at the upper right.

NASA Landsat image, 1999 (courtesy of Hawaii Synergy Project, Univ. of Hawaii Institute of Geophysics & Planetology).


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.

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

de Silva S, Gosnold W D, 2007. Episodic construction of batholiths: insights from the spatiotemporal development of an ignimbrite flare-up. J Volc Geotherm Res, 167: 320-335.

Francis P W, McDonough W F, Hammill M, O'Callaghan L J, Thorpe R S, 1984. The Cerro Purico shield complex, north Chile. In: Harmon R S and Barreiro B A (eds) {Andean Magmatism - Chemical and Isotopic Constraints}, Cheshire, UK: Shiva Pub, p 106-123.

Gardeweg M, Lindsay J, 2004. Lascar volcano and La Pacana caldera. IAVCEI Gen Assembly 2004 Pucon, Chile Field Trip Guide A2, 32 p.

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

Hawkesworth C J, Hammill M, Gledhill A R, van Calsteren P, Rogers G, 1982. Isotope and trace element evidence for late-stage intra-crustal melting in the High Andes. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 58: 240-254.

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

Moreno H, 1985. . (pers. comm.).

Schmidt A K, de Silva S L, Trumbull R B, Emmermann R, 2001. Magma evolution in the Purico ignimbrite complex, northern Chile: evidence for zoning of a dacitic magma by injection of rhyolitic melts. Contr Mineral Petr, 140: 680-700.

Volcano Types

Pyroclastic shield
Lava dome(s)

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types

Andesite / Basaltic Andesite


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

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Purico Complex 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.