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Tecapa

Photo of this volcano
  • El Salvador
  • México and Central America
  • Stratovolcano
  • Unknown - Evidence Credible
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 13.494°N
  • 88.502°W

  • 1593 m
    5226 ft

  • 343080
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: May 1985 (SEAN 10:05) Citation IconCite this Report

Earthquake swarm at historically inactive volcano

"An earthquake swarm occurred by surface faulting on 21 April in the Chinameca Complex, near Tecapa, a volcano with no known historic eruption. A magnitude 4.7 (mb) earthquake, the largest so far, occurred on 23 April . . . . Four days later, 27 April, during the peak activity (in terms of numbers of recorded and felt events per day), an 8 km-long graben formed on the NW flank of the volcano. The N40°W-striking graben is 0.8-1 km wide, with a vertical offset of 30 cm. Through 6 June, 170 earthquakes were felt in the area. A very preliminary analysis of the earthquake location data implies that activity began on a tectonic fault some 15 km NW of the volcanic summit, and moved nearer to the volcano at the time the graben formed. Since 3 June, 5-20 earthquakes per day were recorded by a high-gain seismograph station 50 km from the volcano, down from 300 events per day on 26, 27, and 28 April, and 21 and 23 May."

Information Contacts: J. González, Centro de Investigaciones Geotécnicas, San Salvador; D. Harlow, USGS.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Tecapa.

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.

05/1985 (SEAN 10:05) Earthquake swarm at historically inactive volcano




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


May 1985 (SEAN 10:05) Citation IconCite this Report

Earthquake swarm at historically inactive volcano

"An earthquake swarm occurred by surface faulting on 21 April in the Chinameca Complex, near Tecapa, a volcano with no known historic eruption. A magnitude 4.7 (mb) earthquake, the largest so far, occurred on 23 April . . . . Four days later, 27 April, during the peak activity (in terms of numbers of recorded and felt events per day), an 8 km-long graben formed on the NW flank of the volcano. The N40°W-striking graben is 0.8-1 km wide, with a vertical offset of 30 cm. Through 6 June, 170 earthquakes were felt in the area. A very preliminary analysis of the earthquake location data implies that activity began on a tectonic fault some 15 km NW of the volcanic summit, and moved nearer to the volcano at the time the graben formed. Since 3 June, 5-20 earthquakes per day were recorded by a high-gain seismograph station 50 km from the volcano, down from 300 events per day on 26, 27, and 28 April, and 21 and 23 May."

Information Contacts: J. González, Centro de Investigaciones Geotécnicas, San Salvador; D. Harlow, USGS.

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 1 Holocene eruptive periods.

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1878 Oct 2 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    
Deformation History

There is no Deformation History data available for Tecapa.

Emission History

There is no Emissions History data available for Tecapa.

Photo Gallery

The Tecapa volcano summit contains the 600-m-wide Laguna de Alegría crater lake, seen here from the west. The 0.9 x 1.3 km crater is elongated in an E-W direction and lies about 300 m below the summit.

Photo by Kristal Dorion, 1994 (U.S. Geological Survey).
A drill rig towers above a well site at the Berlín geothermal area. The first exploratory well at Berlín was drilled in 1966 by the government of El Salvador, with assistance from the United Nations. Feasibility studies in the early 1980s were halted by the civil war, and production testing of wells was not completed until 1987. The first two 5 MW power plants came on line in 1992, and 25 MW wells at the Berlín 2 site went into operation in 1998 and 1999.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
Steam rises above El Tronador, a fumarole along the lushly vegetated slopes of the Berlín geothermal area. The steam has temperatures of 105-107°C and begins condensing within 5 m of the vent. The intensity of geothermal activity at Tecapa has been stable during historical time.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
The Berlín geothermal area in the foreground is viewed from the SE on the flank of the Tecapa massif. The Pan-American highway traverses the base of the Tertiary volcanoes of Cerro Sihuatepeque (center) and Cerro Palacios (left) across the Río Lempa in the background.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
Laguna de Apastepeque in the foreground is one of several lake-filled maar craters in the Apastepeque volcanic field. The broad range in the distance to the right is the SE is the Tecapa massif. To the far right is the peak of Volcán Taburete. San Miguel volcano is in the midground to the left.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1994 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
Laguna de Alegría is seen here from the summit of Tecapa volcano, looking SE with the town of Santiago de María in the background. The 600-m-wide crater lake lies about 300 m below the summit in this 1994 photo. Santiago de María is at the eastern end of the Tecapa volcanic complex, on the 900-m-high saddle between it and Cerro El Tigre volcano. Cerro Oromontique, on the flank of El Tigre volcano rise immediately to the right of the town.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1994 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
A westward view down the axis of a cluster of volcanoes between San Miguel and San Vicente volcanoes shows the eroded Pleistocene Cerro el Tigre volcano to the left and Tecapa to its right. San Vicente volcano is in the distance to the far-right.

Photo by Carlos Pullinger, 1996 (Servicio Nacional de Estudios Territoriales, El Salvador).
Steam pours from twin silencer towers at the Berlín 2 geothermal site. Geothermal fluids can flow from a well at the speed of sound, which resembles that of a jet engine to the field crew. The silencer drops the sound to a dull roar. Two 25 MW power plants came on line at Berlín 2 in 1998 and 1999. The two plants utilize both production and reinjection wells, and were expected (after operating and financial expenses) to save $56,000 in fuel costs per day.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL), 1992.
Steam clouds pour from the Berlín 2 well. The Berlín geothermal field on the NW flank of the Tecapa volcanic complex is one of the largest in El Salvador. The Berlín 2 site has an installed capacity of 55 MW with a potential of 55-150 MW. Measured well temperatures ranged from 240-300 degrees Centigrade.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
A night-time view shows a drill site at the Berlín geothermal area on the NW flank of Tecapa volcano. The Berlín Boca Pozo 1 site has an installed capacity of 10 MW and came on line in 1991. The El Tronador site began commercial operation in 1992 and generated 8 MW of power.

Photo courtesy of Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctricia del Río Lempa (CEL).
The Loma San Juan peak lies along the northern crater rim of Laguna de Alegría, a crater lake at the summit of Tecapa. Geothermal features are active along the rim of the crater lake and an area of hydrothermally altered clay containing up to 45% sulfur is found nearby.

Photo by Giuseppina Kysar, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
Tecapa is at the NW end of a cluster of volcanoes in eastern El Salvador between San Vicente and San Miguel, seen here from the west. The peaks on the horizon to the far left lie behind the Berlín caldera. Geothermal activity continues within the Tecapa volcanic complex and a producing geothermal plant is located at the Berlín geothermal field.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The Tecapa volcanic complex (left) and Volcan Taburete (right) are separated by a 800-m-high saddle. They are seen here from the SW rising more than 1100 m above the Pacific coastal plain and lie at the eastern end of a volcanic chain reaching to San Miguel volcano. A relatively young lava flow is found on the southern flank of Taburete volcano, although its age is not known precisely. Fumarolic activity continues at Tecapa, the site of a major geothermal project.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The rounded Volcan Taburete (far left) and the Tecapa volcanic massif rise to the NW above the Pacific coastal plain of El Salvador. The small Loma Pacha cone on the lower SE flank of Taburete (visible in the center of the image) produced a thick lava flow that traveled to SE. The rounded peak to the far right is Cerro Oromontique, a cone that erupted on the flank of El Tigre.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The Tecapa volcanic complex (left) and Volcán Taburete (right) rise to the east of the Río Lempa, which is hidden beyond the slope in the foreground. They are at the western end of the 40-km-long Tecapa-San Miguel volcano cluster in eastern El Salvador. Ignimbrites from a caldera-forming eruption at Tecapa were emplaced beyond the Río Lempa.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
San Vicente is seen here in 2002 with landslide scarps that were produced during the January 2001 earthquake. The San Vicente area and towns at the base of the volcano were particularly affected by the tectonic earthquake and suffered extensive damage. The Tecapa volcanic complex and conical San Miguel volcano are in the distance.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 2002 (Smithsonian Institution).
An E-W-trending chain of volcanoes extends about30 km across eastern El Salvador. The 2-km-wide Laguna Seca el Pacayal caldera is a prominent feature of Chinameca volcano. San Miguel is one of El Salvador's most active volcanoes; the dark area at the lower right is a lava flow from the 1819 eruption. The city of San Miguel is to the upper right.

NASA Space Shuttle image STS61C-31-47, 1986 (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/).
The Tecapa volcanic complex contains the cones and craters through the center of this November 2019 Planet Labs satellite image monthly mosaic (N is at the top; this image is approximately 12 km across). The craters in the NE-SW line from the one in the center in this image are Hoyon (center), Cerro Peylon, and Cerro Las Palmas; the Ausoles de la Laguna de Alegría thermal area is within the crater containing the lake towards the E.

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: Mapa Geologico Minero de La Republica de Nicaragua
Publisher: INETER, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Terriroriales
Country: Nicaragua
Year: 1995
Series: Mapa geologico
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Mapa Geologico Minero de La Republica de Nicaragua

Title: Mapa Geologico Minero de La Republica de Nicaragua
Publisher: INETER, Instituto Nicaraguense de Estudios Terriroriales
Country: Nicaragua
Year: 1995
Series: Mapa geologico
Map Type: Geology
Scale: 1:500,000
Map of Mapa Geologico Minero de La Republica de Nicaragua

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

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

External Sites