Descabezado Grande

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 35.58°S
  • 70.75°W

  • 3953 m
    12966 ft

  • 357050
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Weekly Report: 6 March-12 March 2013 Citation IconCite this Report


OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that during 1-28 February seismicity increased at Descabezado Grande, in the Laguna del Maule volcanic complex area. There were 127 earthquakes detected, with magnitudes 1.7 or less, mostly comprised of volcano-tectonic earthquakes. The seismic swarms were associated with deformation and considered to be at a high level. On 8 March the Alert Level was raised to Yellow.

Source: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)


Most Recent Bulletin Report: March 1982 (SEAN 07:03) Citation IconCite this Report


New fumarole in main crater

Fumarolic activity was observed on the morning of 19 March. A white plume was rising from the summit crater during the 3 hours the observer was on Nevados de Chillán Volcano, 160 km to the S. The only recorded eruption at Descabezado Grande, in 1932, was from a crater at its NE foot. Weak fumarolic activity has been reported on the W slope at about 3,500 m, but none had previously been observed in the main crater.

Information Contacts: H. Moreno R., Univ. de Chile, Santiago.

Weekly Reports - Index


2013: March


6 March-12 March 2013 Citation IconCite this Report


OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that during 1-28 February seismicity increased at Descabezado Grande, in the Laguna del Maule volcanic complex area. There were 127 earthquakes detected, with magnitudes 1.7 or less, mostly comprised of volcano-tectonic earthquakes. The seismic swarms were associated with deformation and considered to be at a high level. On 8 March the Alert Level was raised to Yellow.

Source: Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)


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.

03/1982 (SEAN 07:03) New fumarole in main crater




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


March 1982 (SEAN 07:03) Citation IconCite this Report


New fumarole in main crater

Fumarolic activity was observed on the morning of 19 March. A white plume was rising from the summit crater during the 3 hours the observer was on Nevados de Chillán Volcano, 160 km to the S. The only recorded eruption at Descabezado Grande, in 1932, was from a crater at its NE foot. Weak fumarolic activity has been reported on the W slope at about 3,500 m, but none had previously been observed in the main crater.

Information Contacts: H. Moreno R., Univ. de Chile, Santiago.

Eruptive History


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


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1932 Jun 5 ± 5 days 1933 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Upper NNE slope

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 Descabezado Grande volcano is truncated by a 1.4-km-wide, ice-filled summit crater, giving rise to its name, which means "Large Headless Volcano." The only historical eruption of this late-Pleistocene to Holocene volcano, seen here from the west, occurred in 1932 from an upper NNE-flank vent. The 1932 crater lies out of view below and to the left of the notch at the left side of the summit crater.

Photo by Hugo Moreno (University of Chile).
See title for photo information.
Volcán Descabezado Grande, seen here from the west, is a late-Pleistocene to Holocene stratovolcano with a 1.4-km-wide ice-filled summit crater. The Holocene Alto de las Mulas fissure on the lower NW flank (out of view to the left) produced young rhyodacitic lava flows. A lateral crater formed on the upper NNE flank in 1932, shortly after the end of the major 1932 eruption from nearby Quizapú volcano. This was the site of the only historical eruption of Descabezado Grande.

Photo by Hugo Moreno (University of Chile).
See title for photo information.
Descabezado Grande (center) and Cerro Azul (middle right), seen here from the NW, are the most prominent features of a large volcanic field. The most active of the two large stratovolcanoes is 3810-m-high Cerro Azul. Quizapú, a vent that formed in 1846 on the northern flank of Cerro Azul, was the source of one of the world's largest explosive eruptions of the 20th century in April 1932. The eruption created a 600-700 m wide crater and ejected 9.5 cu km of dacitic tephra. The only historical eruption of Descabezado Grande took place later in 1932.

Photo by Jeff Post, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
See title for photo information.
The 2048-m-high Mondaca lava dome (bottom center) produced a large youthful rhyodacitic lava flow that traveled north and dammed the Rio Lontue, eventually reaching 7 km to the NW (upper right). This eruption may have taken place during historical time, possibly during the 19th century. The solitary small Mondaca lava dome is located NNW of the Descabezado volcano complex and west of the Calabozos caldera.

Photo by Instituto Geográfico Militar, courtesy of Oscar González-Ferrán (University of Chile).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


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

Affiliated Sites