|Elevation||~ 4,850 metres (15,900 ft)|
|Listing||List of volcanoes in Peru|
|Volcanic arc/belt||Central Volcanic Zone|
|Last eruption||February to March 1600|
Huaynaputina (Spanish pronunciation: [wainapuˈtina], Pronounced: // W'EYE-nuh-PUU-tee-NUH; from Quechua: Waynaputina, meaning "Young Volcano") is a stratovolcano in a volcanic upland in southern Peru. The volcano does not have an identifiable mountain profile, but instead is a large volcanic crater. It has produced high-potassium andesite and dacite. On 19 February 1600, it exploded catastrophically (Volcanic Explosivity Index [VEI] 6), in the largest volcanic explosion in South America in historic times. The eruption continued with a series of events into March. An account of the event was included in Fray Antonio Vázquez de Espinosa's Compendio y Descripción de las Indias, which was translated into English as Compendium and description of the West Indies in 1942.
Geography and structure
Huaynaputina lies in Southern Peru's Moquegua Region, 80 kilometres (50 mi) southeast of Arequipa. The volcano is part of the Central Volcanic Zone, the segment of the Andes running through Peru and Chile. It is north of at least one more caldera complex with a resurgent dome.
Despite the volcano's listed elevation of 4,800 metres (15,748 ft), Huaynaputina has very little prominence, less than 1,000 metres (3,281 ft). The mountain resides within a horseshoe-shaped crater 2.5 kilometres (2 mi) in width, and includes three 100-metre (328 ft) deep cones which formed from ash fallout of the 1600 eruption. Another external vent formed a maar just outside the caldera.
Before the Spanish colonization of the Americas, not much is known of the region's history. It is likely natives made human sacrifices ritualistically to the volcano, also sacrificing animals and articles of clothing. Though the Spanish introduced Catholicism and ended the practice of sacrifice, Navarro (1994) maintains that the indigenous people probably related the volcano's eruption to a lack of sacrifice which had angered Supay, god of death. Father Alonso Ruiz of Arequipa predicted a "hit from heaven" in 1599, at which time activity may have begun at the volcano.
Subduction of the eastern edge of the Nazca Plate under the western edge of the South American Plate occurs about 160 kilometers (99 mi) west of Peru and Chile, at a rate of 9 to 11 centimetres (4 in) per year at 30 degrees south latitude. This subduction process has resulted in the formation of the Peru–Chile Trench, an oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean. It also produced the Andean Volcanic Belt and the rest of the Andes. Ticsani, Ubinas and Huaynaputina sit on a volcanic lineament slightly oblique to the main volcanic front, and Ticsani and Huaynaputina are the product of discrete silicic eruptions.
Because the crust of the Central Volcanic Zone is unusually thick, the volcanoes that occur differ from the rest of the Andean edifices. Huaynaputina is rich in andesitic and dacitic rocks, which form a calc-alkalic suite high in potassium. The current crater is underlain by sedimentary and igneous rock from the Barroso formation on its western edge, which sits atop a layer of gneiss and granite from the Precambrian basement that is cut by intrusive dikes and faults. The eastern edge of Huaynaputina's caldera has been excavated by the Tambo River and tapers off into a gorge, while its northern and eastern edges lie atop sediment from the Yura formation and intrusive rock including granodiorite and tonalite approximately 22.8 mya (million years ago), respectively.
The history of the Huaynaputina region is marked by silicic volcanism, where lava is rich in silica. Records of silicic eruptions begin with remnants from the Barroso formation, from the Miocene. Examination of the area's basement reveals rich evidence of intrusive and volcanic activity, most recently at the slightly older volcano Tixani which bears a striking similarity to Huaynaputina in composition and age.
A few days before the eruption, someone reported booming noise from the volcano and fog-like gas being emitted from its crater. The locals scrambled to appease the volcano, preparing girls, pets, and flowers for sacrifice. During the sacrifice ceremony, the volcano ejected ash. By February 15, the activity had noticeably increased, as earthquakes began to occur. By February 18, seismic activity occurred as frequently as three or four times every fifteen minutes, some tremors powerful enough to wake sleepers up.
At 5 P.M. on February 19, Huaynaputina erupted violently, sending volcanic ash into the atmosphere. Observers described the event as "a big explosion with cannonball-like explosions" that had the appearance of an enormous fire. River-like pyroclastic flows flowed down the mountain; the flows on the southern side mixed with water from the Rio Tambo to create lahars. One hour after the eruption, ash began to fall from the sky, and within 24 hours, Arequipa was covered with 25 centimetres (10 in) of ash.
Intermittent eruptions occurred for a little less than a month, concluding on March 5. When Huaynaputina exploded, it produced about 30 cubic kilometres (7.2 cu mi) of tephra and pyroclastic flows traveled 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) to the east and southeast, and lahars – volcanic mudflows – destroyed several villages and reached the coast of the Pacific Ocean, a distance of 120 kilometres (75 mi). The eruption began with a Plinian plume that extended into the stratosphere, and the ashfall and accompanying earthquakes caused substantial damage to the major cities of Arequipa (70 kilometres (43 mi) to the west) and Moquegua.
Ashfall was reported 250–500 kilometres (160–310 mi) away, throughout southern Peru and in what is now northern Chile and western Bolivia. The ash layer now forms a useful stratigraphic marker layer throughout Peru.
In total, the volcano killed more than 1500 people, and ash buried ten villages. The atmospheric spike of acid as a result of the eruption was higher than that of Krakatau. Regional agricultural economies took 150 years to recover fully.
The explosion had effects on climate around the Northern Hemisphere (Southern Hemispheric records are less complete), where 1601 was the coldest year in six centuries, leading to a famine in Russia.
Elsewhere in Europe
In Estonia, Switzerland and Latvia, there were bitterly cold winters in 1600–1602; in 1601 in France, the wine harvest came late; additionally, production of wine collapsed in Germany and colonial Peru.
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- Science News on tie to Russian famine
- The 1600 eruption of Huaynaputina in Peru caused global disruption