San Cristóbal Volcano

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San Cristóbal
San Cristóbal from the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua
Highest point
Elevation1,745 m (5,725 ft) [1]
Coordinates12°42′07″N 87°00′14″W / 12.702°N 87.004°W / 12.702; -87.004Coordinates: 12°42′07″N 87°00′14″W / 12.702°N 87.004°W / 12.702; -87.004[1]
San Cristóbal is located in Nicaragua
San Cristóbal
San Cristóbal
LocationChinandega Department, Nicaragua
Parent rangeCordillera Los Maribios
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Last eruption2018[1]
The San Cristóbal volcanic complex

Volcán San Cristóbal is the highest volcano in Nicaragua at 1,745 m (5,725 ft). Located near to the northwest corner of the country, it forms a backdrop to the city of Chichigalpa, Chinandega. It is also among the most active volcanos in Nicaragua.

San Cristóbal is part of a 5-member volcanic complex that bears the same name. Chonco lies 4 km to the west, and Moyotepe 4 km to the north east. Joined to the volcano's eastern flank is Volcán Casitas, which buried a village with a catastrophic landslide in 1998. The scars from said landslide are still visible today. Finally, La Pelona is located on the eastern end of the complex.[1]

Physical features[edit]

San Cristóbal is the youngest volcano in its complex. It is a nearly symmetrical stratovolcano, rising in a distinctive cone shape. The SW slope is the longest, and the crater rim on that side rises 140 m above the NE end due to prevailing trade winds that distribute tephra to the SW.[1]

The crater is 500 × 600 m in size. While the volcano was at one point covered in tropical forests, the large quantities of gas and smoke that it emits constantly have killed off much of the vegetation.[2]

Eruptive history[edit]

  • 1685: Erupted strongly enough to merit preservation in historical accounts.
  • August 1919: Produced loud noises and light tremors that were felt in surrounding areas.
  • May 1971: Produced bangs and explosions.
  • March 1976: Produced a high, continuous column of smoke, several light tremors, and explosions that occurred every three minutes.
  • c. December 1986: Marked expulsion of gases
  • c. January 1987: Expelled large quantities of gas.
  • May 1997: Entered into a new eruptive period, expelling gases, ash, and sand, and also producing light tremors.
  • December 1999: Expelled gas, ash, and sand.
  • May, August 2001: Reactivated.
  • April 2006: Moderate phreatic eruption.
  • July 2008: Rumbled with a series of small explosions, and expelled gas.
  • September 2009: Explosion and moderate ash expulsion.
  • September 2012: Three big explosions, expelled gas, ash and sand to 5,000 metres, following the 2012 Costa Rica earthquake.[3]
  • December 25, 2012 and continuing into 2013: elevated seismic activity and multiple eruptions over the next few days.[4][5]
  • April 11, 2014: Gas plume that may contain ash drifted West about 20 km.
  • July 20, 2014: Two explosions that occurred at 1:30 P.M. and 2:13 P.M. local time produced small plumes of ash that rose 100 meters.

Current activity[edit]

San Cristóbal remains quite active, continuously expelling copious amounts of gas and smoke. As recent as September 2009, it was reported that ash was falling in nearby towns.[6] In September 2012 it erupted again, spewing ash up to four kilometres (2.5 miles) into the atmosphere, resulting in the evacuation of around 3000 people in the surrounding area.[7]

A further eruption took place, starting on the 25th of December 2012 and continuing into 2013, causing the evacuation of hundreds of locals.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "San Cristóbal". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  2. ^ INETER San Cristobal description "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2006-06-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Nicaragua’s San Cristóbal volcano erupts Archived 2012-09-11 at the Wayback Machine The Tico Times, 2012-09-08.
  4. ^ San Cristobal volcano (Nicaragua) eruption update: near continuous ash eruptions, evacuations Volcano Discovery, 2012-12-27.
  5. ^ Volcano activity of December 27, 2012 – San Cristobal volcano, Nicaragua erupting (video) Earthquake,2012-12-27.
  6. ^ "Eruption underway at Nicaragua's San Cristobal volcano". BNO News. September 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-03.
  7. ^ "Thousands evacuate as Nicaragua volcano spews ash". ABC News. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-09.
  8. ^ "Nicaragua San Cristobal volcano: Hundreds told to leave". BBC News. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-27.