Huaynaputina[nb 1] (Spanish: [wainapuˈtina]) 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.[2] On 19 February 1600, it exploded catastrophically (Volcanic Explosivity Index [VEI] 6), in the largest volcanic explosion in South America in historical times.[3] 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.

View of the crater and part of the nearby valley.
Highest point
Elevation~ 4,850 metres (15,900 ft)[1]
ListingList of volcanoes in Peru
Coordinates16°36′51″S 70°51′14″W / 16.61417°S 70.85389°W / -16.61417; -70.85389Coordinates: 16°36′51″S 70°51′14″W / 16.61417°S 70.85389°W / -16.61417; -70.85389[1]
Native name[Waynaputina] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help)
Huaynaputina is located in Peru
Location in Peru
Parent rangeAndes
Age of rock500,000
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Volcanic arc/beltCentral Volcanic Zone
Last eruptionFebruary to March 1600
Ash falling on the city of Arequipa in 1600


Geography and structureEdit

Huaynaputina lies in Southern Peru's Moquegua Region, 80 kilometres (50 mi) southeast of Arequipa.[4] The volcano is part of the Central Volcanic Zone, the segment of the Andes running through Peru and Chile.[4] It is north of at least one more caldera complex with a resurgent dome.[5]

Despite the volcano's listed elevation of 4,800 metres (15,750 ft), Huaynaputina has very little prominence, less than 1,000 metres (3,280 ft).[4] The mountain resides within a horseshoe-shaped crater 2.5 kilometres (2 mi) in width,[5] and includes three 100-metre (328 ft) deep cones which formed from ash fallout of the 1600 eruption.[1] Another external vent formed a maar just outside the caldera.[5]


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.[citation needed] Though the Spanish introduced Catholicism and ended the practice of sacrifice, Navarro (1994)[6] maintains that the indigenous people[who?] 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.[7]


Tectonic settingEdit

The subduction of the Nazca Plate resulted in the formation of the Andean Volcanic Belt and the Peru–Chile Trench.

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.[8] This subduction process has resulted in the formation of the Peru–Chile Trench, an oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean.[8] It also produced the Andean Volcanic Belt and the rest of the Andes.[9] 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.[10]

Local geologyEdit

Because the crust of the Central Volcanic Zone is unusually thick, the volcanoes that occur differ from the rest of the Andean edifices.[4] Huaynaputina is rich in andesitic and dacitic rocks, which form a calc-alkalic suite high in potassium.[11] 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,[4] 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.[11]

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 Ticsani which bears a striking similarity to Huaynaputina in composition and age.[5]

1600 eruptionEdit

A few days before the eruption, someone reported booming noise from the volcano and fog-like gas being emitted from its crater. Navarro tells of "local wizards" scrambling to appease the volcano, preparing girls, pets, and flowers for sacrifice, and of the volcano ejecting ash during the sacrifice ceremony.[7] By 15 February, the activity had noticeably increased, as earthquakes began to occur. By 18 February, seismic activity occurred as frequently as three or four times every 15 minutes, some tremors powerful enough to wake those sleeping.[12]

At around 5 p.m. on 19 February, 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.[12] The blasts of the eruption could be heard in the coastal localities of Lima, Chiquiabo and Arica. In these coastal localities it was thought that the sound came from naval engagements, likely with English corsairs. In view of this, the viceroy of Peru sent reinforcement troops to El Callao.[13]

In the city of Arequipa church authorities organized a series of processions, requiem masses and exorcisms to end what was interpreted as a godly punishment.[14] Some indigenous people organized their own rituals which included feasting on whatever food and drink they had and battering dogs that were hanged alive.[15] The apparent effectiveness of the christian rituals led many previously hesitant indigenous inhabitants to embrace Christianity and abandon their clandestine native religion.[15]

Intermittent eruptions occurred for a little less than a month, concluding on the 5th of March. When Huaynaputina exploded, it produced about 30 cubic kilometres (7.2 cu mi) of tephra[1] 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).[1] 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 became northern Chile and western Bolivia. The ash layer now forms a useful stratigraphic marker layer throughout Peru.[16]

In total, the volcano killed more than 1,500 people, and ash buried ten villages. The atmospheric spike of acid as a result of the eruption was higher than that of Krakatoa.[17] Regional agricultural economies took 150 years to recover fully.[1] The city of Arequipa went from being a relatively wealthy city to be a place of famine and disease in the years after the eruption.[18]

Global effectsEdit


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.[19]


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.[20]


In Japan, Lake Suwa had one of its earliest freezings in 500 years. In China, peach trees bloomed late.[20]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ /wnəpʊˈtnə/ WY-nə-puu-TEE-nə; from Quechua Waynaputina, meaning 'young volcano'.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Huaynaputina". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  2. ^ "The Geochemistry of Huaynaputina Volcano, Southern Peru" (PDF). Third ISAG. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  3. ^ Thouret, J.-C.; Davilla, J.; Eissen, J.-P. (May 1999). "Largest explosive eruption in historical times in the Andes at Huaynaputina volcano, A.D. 1600, southern Peru" (PDF). Geology. 27 (5): 435–438. Bibcode:1999Geo....27..435T. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1999)027<0435:LEEIHT>2.3.CO;2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e Oliver et al. 1996, p. 609.
  5. ^ a b c d McCoy and Heiken 2000, p. 16.
  6. ^ Navarro, R., 1994, Antologia del valle de Omate: Arequipa, Universidad National San Agustin, 76 p.
  7. ^ a b McCoy and Heiken 2000, p. 17.
  8. ^ a b Hildreth et al. 1984, p. 45.
  9. ^ "Volcanoes of South America: Highlights". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  10. ^ McCoy, Floyd W.; Heiken, Grant (1 January 2000). Volcanic Hazards and Disasters in Human Antiquity. Geological Society of America. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8137-2345-7. Archived from the original on 18 February 2018.
  11. ^ a b Oliver et al. 1996, p. 610.
  12. ^ a b McCoy and Heiken 2000, p. 18.
  13. ^ Petit-Breuilh 2004, p. 92.
  14. ^ Petit-Breuilh 2004, p. 97.
  15. ^ a b Petit-Breuilh 2004, p. 96.
  16. ^ "Huaynaputina information". Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 12 March 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  17. ^ Piccardi and Masse, p. 181.
  18. ^ Petit-Breuilh 2004, p. 100.
  19. ^ Witze, Alexandra (11 April 2008). "The volcano that changed the world". Nature Publishing Group. Archived from the original on 12 April 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  20. ^ a b Thompson, Andrea (5 May 2008). "Volcano in 1600 caused global disruption". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 3 July 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2008.


External linksEdit