Increased seismic activity in Mexico is a sign of imminent eruption of the Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field


A volcano is preparing for its next eruption in Michoacán, Mexico as a swarm of small earthquakes – more than 600 microquakes and six tremors larger than M4.0 – is currently striking the so-called Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field since May 1, 2021.

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New earthquake swarm indicates volcanic eruption in Michoacan, Mexico. Picture via UNAM

One dangerous volcano in the area, the Paricutín, suddenly exploded in 1943 following a similar series of earthquakes:

… Mexico is a volcanically active country, especially in that region [near Uruapan], where there are more than 1,200 small volcanoes in the so-called Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field,said a scientist.

Meanwhile, the second largest lake of Mexico is drying up… in Michoacan too

Sign of the next eruption?

In January-February 2020, more than 3000 small earthquakes were recorded in the same area. The increased seismic activity was then linked to horizontal magma movements and thus didn’t lead to a strong eruption.

What does the new swarm means for the volcanic activity in the area?

Mexican researchers say there is no conclusive evidence that a new volcano will erupt, but emphasized the need for ongoing scientific monitoring:

We assume that these [earthquake] swarms are associated with the movement of magma, but it doesn’t always reach the surface. These swarms [also] occurred in 1997, 1999 and 2006, but magma didn’t reach the surface [of the Earth]. Perhaps the same thing is happening now, but it’s very important to keep monitoring [the magma movements].

Moreover, they ask people to follow all recommendations issued by Civil Protection authorities in order to ensure their safety. People living near the seismic swarm should be alert to any gas odors.

The emission of gases is to some extent easy to detect due to the smell of sulfur as well as hydrothermal manifestations and impacts on vegetation, which dries out when it … [is exposed to] higher temperatures than usual from the soil,” he said.

What is the Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field?

The widespread Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field contains over 1,400 vents, including the historically active cinder cones of Parícutin and Jorullo, covering a 200 x 250 km wide area of Michoacán and Guanajuato states in west-central México.

Map of the widespread Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field
Map of the widespread Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field

Cinder cones are the predominant volcanic form, but small shield volcanoes, lava domes, maars and tuff rings (many in the Valle de Santiago area), and coneless lava flows are also present.

Jorullo, which was constructed in the 18th century, and Parícutin, which grew above a former cornfield during 1943-52, are the two best known volcanic features scattered throughout the field.

Meanwhile, the second largest lake of Mexico is drying up… in Michoacan too… There may be a link, no?

So, yes, if you happen to live near this earthquake swarm in the so-called Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field in Michoacan, Mexico, I would really get ready for the next eruption… [Milenio, Mexico News Daily]

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1 Comment

  1. Hmmm, probably a good idea to keep monitoring that area, like the article suggests.

    Winds will be blowing the volcanic fallout our way too.

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