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Acatenango

Photo of this volcano
  • Guatemala
  • México and Central America
  • Stratovolcano(es)
  • 1972 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 14.501°N
  • 90.876°W

  • 3976 m
    13045 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.

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.

Eruptive History

There is data available for 8 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1972 Nov 12 1972 Dec 16 ± 15 days 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
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for Acatenango.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Acatenango.

Photo Gallery

The twin volcanoes of Acatenango (left) and Fuego rise in the center beyond Lake Atitlán, with the conical peak of Agua volcano to their left. Lake Atitlán fills the latest of three large calderas produced during the Pleistocene at Atitlán. A steam plume originates from the summit of Fuego, one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1983.
Acatenango, forming a twin volcano with Volcán Fuego to the south, itself has two summits. Activity at Yepocapa (left), the northern summit of Acatenango, ended about 20,000 years ago, after which the southern and highest cone, Pico Mayor, was constructed. The first well-documented eruptions of Acatenango took place from 1924 to 1927, although earlier historical eruptions may have occurred. This aerial view is from the SW.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1983.
The Acatenango-Fuego complex is seen here from the NW. A gas plume drifts from the summit of Fuego (right), beyond 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 northern Pico Mayor was constructed. The frequently active Fuego volcano formed during the Holocene.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
The upper SE flanks of Fuego (left) and Acatenango (right) are seen here, with their summits that lie only 3 km apart along a N-S line. The modern Fuego edifice was constructed within a scarp left by collapse of the ancestral Mesata, whose flank appears to the right of the summit towards the saddle between the two.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
The paired volcanoes of Fuego (left) and Acatenango, seen here in profile from the ESE, illustrate the N-S progression of volcanism that is typical of paired volcanoes in Guatemala and México. Activity at Yepocapa (right), the lower northern summit of Acatenango, ended about 20,000 years ago, after which Acatenango's highest cone, Pico Mayor, was built. Activity then again migrated southward to build Meseta volcano, a remnant of which forms the shoulder left of the saddle between Acatenango and Fuego. Lastly, modern Fuego was constructed south of Meseta volcano.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1983.
Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, forms the shoulder between between Fuego and its twin volcano, Acatenango. This view from the SE also shows Atitlán volcano above the saddle between Fuego and Acantenango. Vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded at Fuego since 1524. They have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1983.
An ash column rises above the summit of Fuego volcano in early December 1974 with the city of Antigua in the foreground. This relatively minor activity took place near the end of one of Fuego's largest historical eruptions, which began in October. The twin summits of Acatenango, Pico Mayer (right) and Yepocapa (left), appear at the upper right.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1974.
Fuego (left) and Acatenango are two of several paired volcanoes in Guatemala. 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).
Three stratovolcanoes tower more than 3,500 m above the Guatemala Pacific coastal plain. Acatenango is the highest of the three, a small gas plume drifts from the summit of Fuego, and Volcán de Agua to the far right rises above a low saddle between it and Volcán de Fuego.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
The hummocky surface in the foreground in front of the Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes in Guatemala is a massive debris-avalanche deposit in Escuintla that was produced by partial collapse of the volcanic complex sometime during the late Pleistocene to early Holocene. This is the largest known debris avalanche in Guatemala; it has an estimated volume of about 15 km3 and traveled about 50 km. For the last 30 km, the avalanche traveled over flat slopes of less than 1 degree, illustrating the extremely high mobility of volcanic debris avalanches.

Photo by Jim Vallance, 1989 (Michigan Technological University).
The beautifully symmetrical Agua volcano forms a prominent backdrop to Guatemala City in the foreground. The twin volcanoes of Fuego (left) and Acatenango (right) appear to the right of Agua in this 1983 view from the NE. No historical eruptions are known of Agua volcano, despite its youthful profile.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1983.
The forested summit of symmetrical Agua volcano appears in the foreground with the twin volcanoes of Fuego (left) and Acatenango (right) in the background. The three stratovolcanoes overlook the historical city of Antigua Guatemala, whose outskirts appear on the right. Agua has had no historical eruptions, in contrast to Acatenango and especially Fuego, which is one of the most active volcanoes of Guatemala. This 1983 aerial view is from the west.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1983.
An explosion from MacKenney crater on Pacaya volcano ejects a dark, ash-rich column and individual blocks that are sometimes incandescent even during daylight hours. This December 1974 photo shows Fuego (left) and Acatenango (right) volcanoes in the background, behind the sloping flanks of Agua volcano.

Copyrighted photo by Katia and Maurice Krafft, 1974.
Fuego (left) and Acatenango are seen here from the SSE in 1994. The two edifices erupted from four major vents along a 5-km-long N-S trend, with the focus of volcanic activity progressively shifting to the south. The modern Fuego edifice is constructed within the collapse scar of the ancestral Mesata edifice, located between it and Acatenango.

Copyrighted photo by Stephen O'Meara, 1994.
Fuego and Acatenango are seen here from the SE and are result of eruptions along a N-S line that moved progressively towards the south. The gully on the righthand side of Fuego is the rim of a scarp produced by the collapse of ancestral Meseta volcano, which preceded the growth of the modern Fuego edifice.

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

Photo by Bill Rose, 1987 (Michigan Technological University).
A tephra layer from Acatenango is exposed NE of the volcano along the road between Antigua and Yepocapa. Pottery fragments within the tephra layer were dated between 1,400 and 1,500 CE. Most Holocene eruptions from Acatenango originated from Pico Mayor, the southernmost and highest of the two peaks. The scale bar marks 10 cm intervals.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
This elongate crater is along the northern flank of Pico Mayor, the summit of Acatenango. The first well-documented eruption of Acatenango took place from this N-flank vent beginning 18 December 1924. The eruption continued until 7 June 1925. On 14 March 1925 ash fell as far away as Pochuta.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1980 (Michigan Technological University).
The flanks of Fuego are seen here in an aerial view from the SE in 1978 with Acatenango to the right. Over the formation of these volcanoes the activity began at the northern center, farthest away from the Central American trench (100 km S), and subsequently migrated to the south.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
Acatenango (right) is seen here with Fuego at the center in 1986. Volcán Acatenango was constructed during three eruptive periods post-dating the roughly 84,000-year-old Los Chocoyos Ash from Atitlán caldera. The eruptive period of Yepocapa, the northern peak of Acatenango, ceased about 20,000 years ago. The eruption of the southern and highest cone, Pico Mayor began at that time.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1986 (Michigan Technological University).
Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes tower more than 3.5 km above farmlands of the Pacific coastal plain. Edifice failure of these volcanoes has occurred in the direction of the coastal plain, producing major debris avalanches that reached as far as 50 km away.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1970 (Michigan Technological University).
Volcán de Agua is in the center of this photo and lava flows from MacKenney cone form the slope in the foreground. They have filled in the moat of the Pacaya caldera almost to the level of the lower Cerro Chino crater rim, with the communication antennas along the summit in the midground. The two 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).
This view from Pacaya shows Fuego and Acatenango (left) and conical Volcán de Agua volcano (right). These impressive volcanoes all exceed 3.5 km in elevation and rise from near sea level on the Pacific coastal plain to the south. Volcanism at the Acatenango-Fuego pair has migrated southwards, 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).
GVP Map Holdings

The maps shown below have been scanned from the GVP map archives and include the volcano on this page. Clicking on the small images will load the full 300 dpi map. Very small-scale maps (such as world maps) are not included. The maps database originated over 30 years ago, but was only recently updated and connected to our main database. We welcome users to tell us if they see incorrect information or other problems with the maps; please use the Contact GVP link at the bottom of the page to send us email.


Title: Carta Geolica de la Republica Mexicana
Publisher: Recursos Minerales and Institute de Gelogia
Country: Mexico
Year: 1992
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:2,000,000
Map of Carta Geolica de la Republica Mexicana

Title: Paso el Jobo
Publisher: IGN
Country: El Salvador
Year: 1986
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:50,000
Map of Paso el Jobo

Title: Carta Gravimetrica 1984 - 1985 Anomalias Bouguer Simple
Publisher: Instituto Geografico Nacional "Ingeniero Pablo Guzman"
Country: El Salvador
Year: 1986
Map Type: Geophysical (Gravity)
Scale: 1:300,000
Map of Carta Gravimetrica 1984 - 1985 Anomalias Bouguer Simple

Title: Bath of Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean Sea
Publisher: AAPG, Williams & Heintz Map Corp.
Country: US/ C.Am/ S.Am
Year: 1984
Map Type: Bathymetric
Scale: 1:3,289
Map of Bath of Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean Sea

Title: Mapa Oficial de La Republica de El Salvador
Publisher: Instituto Geografico Nacional "Ingeniero Pablo Guzman"
Country: El Salvador
Year: 1984
Map Type: Geographic
Scale: 1:200,000
Map of Mapa Oficial de La Republica de El Salvador

Title: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Publisher: DMA Aerospace Center
Country: NW C Am (GU ES HO)
Year: 1982
Series: TPC
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

Title: Santa Ana
Publisher: BGR, West Germany
Country: El Salvador
Year: 1978
Series: El Salvador Geology
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Santa Ana

Title: Santa Ana
Publisher: IGN
Country: El Salvador
Year: 1974
Map Type: Topographic
Scale: 1:100,000
Map of Santa Ana
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, and may be availble for research (contact the Rock and Ore Collections Manager). Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description Lava Source Collection Date
NMNH 117395-7 Lava -- 2 Feb 1980
External Sites