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San Salvador

Photo of this volcano
  • El Salvador
  • México and Central America
  • Stratovolcano
  • 1917 CE
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 13.734°N
  • 89.294°W

  • 1893 m
    6211 ft

  • 343050
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: November 1999 (BGVN 24:11) Citation IconCite this Report

Minor volcano-tectonic seismicity detected

In August, several stations of the seismic network at San Salvador volcano recorded a few volcano-tectonic events 5 km from the crater. Local scientists investigated a fumarolic field, but nothing abnormal was found.

Information Contacts: Douglas Hernandez, Centro de Investigaciones Geotecnicas, Apartado Postal 109, San Salvador, El Salvador.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for San Salvador.

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.

11/1999 (BGVN 24:11) Minor volcano-tectonic seismicity detected




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


November 1999 (BGVN 24:11) Citation IconCite this Report

Minor volcano-tectonic seismicity detected

In August, several stations of the seismic network at San Salvador volcano recorded a few volcano-tectonic events 5 km from the crater. Local scientists investigated a fumarolic field, but nothing abnormal was found.

Information Contacts: Douglas Hernandez, Centro de Investigaciones Geotecnicas, Apartado Postal 109, San Salvador, El Salvador.

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 7 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1917 Jun 7 1917 Nov Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Boquerón summit and north flank
[ 1806 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0   El Playón ?
1658 Nov 3 1671 Aug (in or after) Confirmed 3 Historical Observations NW flank (El Playón), El Playón Sequence - Lower Playón
1575 Unknown Confirmed 3 Historical Observations Loma de Grandes Bloques
1200 (?) Unknown Confirmed 4 Anthropology Boquerón, San Andrés Talpetate Tuff
0640 Aug ± 30 years Unknown Confirmed 3 Radiocarbon (corrected) NW flank (Loma Caldera)
[ 1040 BCE ± 300 years ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for San Salvador.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for San Salvador.

Photo Gallery

This scoria cone on the floor of the Boquerón summit crater at San Salvador was built during an eruption that began on 6 June 1917 on the upper north flank of Boquerón. A chain of scoria cones formed, and a lava flow traveled to the northwest, cutting the railroad between Quezaltepeque and Sitio del Niño. The Boquerón summit crater lake began to boil by 10 June and disappeared by 28 June, after which this small cone (Boqueroncito) formed on the crater floor.

Photo by Mike Carr, 1979 (Rutgers University).
The barren lava flow in the foreground was formed during a 1917 eruption from vents on the flank of Boquerón stratovolcano, the rounded peak at the left. The lava flow cut the railway SW of Quezaltepeque. The 1917 eruption also produced a small cinder cone in the summit crater of Boquerón. Boquerón has grown within a 6-km-wide caldera whose western rim forms El Jabalí peak (right). Three fracture zones that extend beyond the base of the volcano have been the locus for numerous flank eruptions of Santa Ana volcano.

Photo by Kristal Dorion, 1994 (U.S. Geological Survey).
Laminated pyroclastic surge deposits surround the walls of houses buried by an eruption from the Laguna Caldera scoria cone on the lower NW flank of San Salvador. This eruption occurred around 590 CE and buried at least three Mayan homesteads beneath more than 4 m of scoria and ash.

Photo by Giuseppina Kysar, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
Boquerón volcano, its summit cut by a steep-walled, 500-m-deep crater, was constructed within a 6-km-wide caldera whose largely obscured rims are visible in this aerial photo from the WSW. The caldera cut an older San Salvador edifice, remnants of which are visible at El Picacho peak (in the shadow behind Boquerón) and El Jabalí (the low peak at the lower left). The buried caldera rim in the foreground is defined by the change in degree of dissection of the volcano's flanks. Guazapa volcano can be seen in the distance at the top of the photo.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
Oxidized red scoria deposits are exposed in a quarry on Cerro el Cerrito, a scoria cone on the lower northern flank of San Salvador immediately SE of the town of Quezaltepeque.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
The 1.5-km-wide Boquerón crater formed during a major eruption about 1200 CE. The eruption produced a 0.3-0.5 km3 San Andrés Talpetate Tuff that went primarily to the west, and was accompanied by pyroclastic flows. The eruption was named after the San Andrés archaeological site, where it was first identified. The outskirts of the city of San Salvador extend up the flank to the right.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
San Salvador volcano rises above the capital city of El Salvador. The broader peak to the left is the Boquerón edifice, which has grown within the 6-km-wide crater of the older El Picacho edifice (the peak to the right). Most of the four pre-1917 eruptions recorded at San Salvador since the 16th century have occurred at flank vents.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The dark-colored lava flow in the center of the photo originated during an eruption in 1917 from a vent high on the northern flank of Boquerón volcano (upper right). On June 6, 1917 an eruption began from NW-trending fissures on the upper north flank of Boquerón. A chain of cinder cones formed and a lava flow traveled to the northwest, cutting the railroad between Quezaltepeque and Sitio del Niño. Eruptive activity also occurred at the summit crater of Boquerón, where a small conelet formed on the crater floor. El Picacho peak is at the left.

Photo by Giuseppina Kysar, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
An excavation at the Joya de Cerén archaeological site in the Zapotitán Valley shows pyroclastic surge deposits from the 590 CE eruption of the Laguna Caldera scoria cone against Mayan buildings. The excavation has unearthed several small Protoclassic Mayan homesteads that were buried by this eruption on the northern flank of San Salvador. They contain the remains of uneaten meals left by occupants who evacuated their houses.

Photo by Giuseppina Kysar, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
An archeological excavation near the community of Cerén has unearthed several small Protoclassic Mayan homesteads that were buried by an eruption from the nearby Laguna Caldera scoria cone on the northern flank of San Salvador. The eruption occurred suddenly, as seen from the remains of uneaten meals left by occupants who fled their houses. The eruption was radiocarbon dated at about 590 CE.

Photo by Rick Wunderman, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The massive Pleistocene Guazapa stratovolcano (left-center) is seen here in an aerial view from the SW with the Río Lempa behind it. The youngest flank vent of Guazapa is Cerro Macanze, which lies on the SE flank of the volcano, behind the two small volcanoes in the right-center part of the photo. The dark-colored unvegetated lava flow in the foreground was erupted in 1917 from the flank of San Salvador volcano.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The SW corner of Ilopango caldera is visible in the foreground with the outskirts of the capital city of San Salvador behind it. The high peak on the left horizon (NW) is El Picacho, part of the San Salvador volcanic complex, a recently active volcano overlooking the capital city. Below it to the left is San Jacinto, a Pliocene lava dome complex. The broad peak in the background to the right is the Pliocene Cerro Nejapa volcano.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
The summit of San Salvador volcano is truncated by a large steep-walled crater, Boquerón (the mouth), which formed during a major eruption producing the San Andrés Talpetate Tuff about 800 years ago. Eruption of west-directed airfall tephra was accompanied by pyroclastic flows. The small 30-m-high cinder cone, Boqueroncito (the little mouth) is seen in the center of the crater floor of 1.5-km-wide, 500-m-deep Boquerón and was constructed during the 1917 eruption.

Aerial photo by Instituto Geográfico Nacional El Salvador, 1979.
The 8 x 11 km wide Ilopango caldera fills the center of the image in this view from the ESE. Fresh, light-colored exposures of the Tierra Blanca Joven formation in the foreground associated with the latest caldera-forming episode were in part created by landslides during the January 2001 earthquake. The capital city of San Salvador lies beyond the lake, in front of San Salvador volcano (upper right). The Santa Ana volcanic complex lies beyond San Salvador volcano in the background to the far right.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
El Playón scoria cone on the lower NW flank of Santa Ana formed during an eruption in 1658. The eruption began on 3 November 1658, producing ashfall in Comayagua and a lava flow (left) to the NE that surrounded the village of Nejapa. The lava flow in the foreground was emplaced in 1917 from a vent on the upper northern flank of San Salvador.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
Cerro Alto (right) is a scoria cone on the SE flank of Coatepeque caldera, seen here from the southern caldera rim. Basaltic lava flows were erupted from the eastern side of the cone. Cerro Alto predates the formation of Coatepeque caldera and is overlain by deposits from the caldera-forming eruptions. San Salvador volcano is on the horizon to the east (left).

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
This view from the southern rim of Coatepeque shows the western side of San Salvador volcano. The broad Boquerón edifice has grown within a large crater within an older stratovolcano, of which rounded Picacho to the left is a remnant. The flat brown-colored area to the right is the 1722 lava flow from San Marcelino scoria cone on the lower flank of Santa Ana.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
The western flanks of San Salvador rise above the Zapotitán basin beyond sugar cane fields south of Coatepeque caldera. These flanks and the rounded El Picacho peak left of the summit are part of the ancestral San Salvador volcano. The broad Boquerón edifice subsequently grew over much of the caldera rim, and lava flows traveled down the northern and southern flanks, smoothing its profile.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
The capital city of San Salvador extends across much of this photo taken from the International Space Station (with north to the bottom) and encroaches on the flanks of San Salvador volcano. The Boquerón crater is 1.5 km wide and lies within a late-Pleistocene crater whose eastern wall is shown by the shadow to the left. The dark area to the bottom right is a flank lava flow produced during the 1917 eruption.

NASA International Space Station image ISS001-E-5903, 2001 (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/).
This false-color NASA ASTER image (N is at the top) looks down on the 1.5-km-wide San Salvador summit crater. The lava flow to the north was erupted from a flank vent in 1917; the small cone in the center of the summit crater also formed that year. Lake-filled Laguna de Chanmico maar lies on the lower NW flank (left-center). The capital city of San Salvador is at the lower right.

NASA ASTER image, 2001 (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).
The 1.5-km-wide Boquerón crater of San Salvador is in the center of this November 2019 Planet Labs satellite image monthly mosaic (N is at the top), with the small Boqueroncito scoria cone in the center. A 6 x 4.5 km caldera formed around 40-30 ka and the current El Boquerón edifice was built within it. Recent activity was concentrated in the northern sector with lava flows emplaced on the N flank and within the crater.

Satellite image courtesy of Planet Labs Inc., 2019 (https://www.planet.com/).
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: 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: 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
Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 4 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 91045-1 Lava -- --
NMNH 91045-2 Lava -- --
NMNH 91406-1 Basalt -- --
NMNH 91406-2 Basalt -- --
External Sites