Volcán de Agua

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Volcán de Agua
Volcán de Agua, seen from Antigua, Guatemala, with temporary street carpeting for Easter celebrations in foreground.
Highest point
Elevation3,760 m (12,340 ft)[1]
Coordinates14°27′54″N 90°44′35″W / 14.46500°N 90.74306°W / 14.46500; -90.74306Coordinates: 14°27′54″N 90°44′35″W / 14.46500°N 90.74306°W / 14.46500; -90.74306[1]
English translationVolcano of Water
Language of nameSpanish
Volcán de Agua is located in Guatemala
Volcán de Agua
Volcán de Agua
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Volcanic arc/beltCentral America Volcanic Arc
Last eruptionLate Pleistocene

Volcán de Agua (also known as Hunahpú by Maya) is a stratovolcano located in the departments of Sacatepéquez and Escuintla in Guatemala. At 3,760 m (12,340 ft), Agua Volcano towers more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft) above the Pacific coastal plain to the south and 2,000 m (6,600 ft) above the Guatemalan Highlands to the north. It dominates the local landscape except when hidden by cloud cover. The volcano is within 5 to 10 km (3.1 to 6.2 mi) of the city of Antigua Guatemala and several other large towns situated on its northern apron. These towns have a combined population of nearly 100,000. It is within about 20 km (12 mi) of Escuintla (population, c. 150,000) to the south.[2] Coffee is grown on the volcano's lower slopes.

Brief description and history[edit]

Volcan de Agua as seen from Santa María de Jesús in 1895. Photograph by Alfred Percival Maudslay.[3]

The local Kaqchikel people have always called the volcano Hunapú "place of flowers" or Jun Ajpu' "one hunter" (The calendar date for the sacred site; a typical method for naming sacred sites in Mayan cosmovision) in current Kaqchikel orthography.[citation needed] The Spanish conquistadors also called it Hunapú until a lahar from the volcano on September 10, 1541[4] destroyed the original capital of Guatemala (now known as Ciudad Vieja) and the city was moved to Antigua Guatemala following this disaster. Among the casualties was the governor Beatriz de la Cueva.[5] As the lahar produced a destructive flood of water, this prompted the modern name "Volcán de Agua" meaning "Volcano of Water", in contrast to the nearby "Volcán de Fuego" or "Volcano of Fire". The Kaqchikels call Volcan de Fuego Chi Gag, which translates to "where the fire is" or Chi Q'aq' in current Kaqchikel orthography.

The volcano was active in the late Pleistocene between 80,000 and 10,000 years ago,[2] but has not erupted since then.[1] Despite the lack of eruptive activity, the volcano can still produce debris flows and lahars that inundate nearby populated areas.[2] This was proven by the fact that on 11 September 1541, newly founded villa of Santiago de los Caballeros was ruined by a "formidable landslide that came down Volcán de Agua; the mudslide brought along heavy rocks that destroyed part of the buildings and damaged the rest".[6] The city was destroyed and the survivors had no direction, since governor Beatriz de la Cueva died during the disaster, which took place shortly after her husband, Adelantado Pedro de Alvarado, died and she was appointed governor by the Ayuntamiento (English:City Hall).[7] Beatriz de la Cueva had been beside herself with grief and on 9 September 1541, when she had signed the Cabildo documents, she did so as "la sin ventura" (English: the hapless one), a phrase that turned out to be prophetic.[8] In the aftermath Beatriz de la Cueva was blamed for the disaster as it was considered to be a godly punishment for her sins. Additionally her fate became a cautionary tale about giving women positions in government particularly when many qualified men were available.[9]

Volcan de Agua as seen from Ciudad Vieja in 2007.

In 1895 Anne Cary Maudslay and her husband, archeologist Alfred Percival Maudslay visited the Antigua Guatemala region as part of a journey through Guatemala's Maya and colonial archeological monuments, and climbed the Volcán de Agua; she wrote a book called A Glimpse at Guatemala where she explains that water from the volcano crater could not have destroyed the old Santiago:

The cause of this catastrophe is usually said to have been the bursting of the side of a lake which had been formed in the crater of the extinct Volcán de Agua; but an examination of the crater shows this explanation to be improbable, as the break in the crater-wall is in an opposite direction, and no water flowing from it could have reached the town. Moreover, there is no evidence to show that the deeper portion of the crater, which is still intact, has held water since the reported outbreak. Indeed, an accumulation of water during the exceptionally heavy rain, through some temporary obstruction in one of the deep worn gullies which indent the beautiful slope of that great mountain, and a subsequent landslip would probably account for the damage done without the aid of either an eruption of water from the crater or the supernatural appearances which are duly noted by the old chroniclers.[10]

The volcano was last blanketed by snowfall in January 1967.[citation needed]

The Volcán de Agua has been declared a protected area in 1956 and covers an area of 12,600 hectares (31,000 acres).[11]

On 21 January 2012, 12,000 Guatemalans formed a human chain all the way to the peak Volcan de Agua in a protest against domestic violence.[12]


See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Agua". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.
  2. ^ a b c S.P. Schilling, J.W. Vallance, O. Matías, and M.M. Howell, 2001, Lahar Hazards at Agua Volcano, Guatemala: USGS Open-File Report 01-432
  3. ^ Maudslay & Maudslay 1899, p. 28.
  4. ^ Recinos and Goetz, p. 33 "Recinos gives 2 Tihax (Etz'nab') - September 10, 1541(Julian). The date which marked the destruction of the city of Guatemala founded at the foot of the Volcano of Agua. "After a period of heavy rain there was an earthquake and then a flood of water (a lahar) that destroyed the old city of Guatemala.
  5. ^ Asselbergs 2004
  6. ^ Juarros 1818, p. 262.
  7. ^ Juarros 1818, p. 263.
  8. ^ Maudslay & Maudslay 1899, p. 25.
  9. ^ Petit-Breuilh Sepúlveda, María Eugenia (2004). "Análisis de las erupciones en hispanoamérica durante los últimos cinco siglos". La historia eruptiva de los volcanes hispanoamericanos (Siglos XVI al XX): El modelo chileno (in Spanish). Huelva, Spain: Casa de los volcanes. pp. 75–76. ISBN 84-95938-32-4.
  10. ^ Maudslay & Maudslay 1899, p. 26.
  11. ^ CONAP (January 2011). "Listado de Áreas Protegidas" (in Spanish). conap.gob.gt. Archived from the original (xls) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  12. ^ "Guatemalans climb volcano in protest against violence". BBC News. 22 January 2012.


External links[edit]