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Izalco volcano

stratovolcano 1950 m / 6,398 ft
El Salvador, 13.81°N / -89.63°W
Current status: dormant (1 out of 5)
Izalco volcano books
Typical eruption style: strombolian
Izalco volcano eruptions: 1966, 1948-57, 1939-48, 1937-38(?), 1933-34, 1931, 1930, 1927-28(?), 1925-27, 1924, 1920-21, 1912-16, 1903-05, 1902, 1899-1900, 1891-98, 1890, 1887-89, 1885, 1884, 1883, 1882, 1881, 1879-80, 1878, 1874-75 (?), 1872-73, 1870 (?), 1869, 1868, 1867, 1866, 1864-65, 1863, 1859-60, 1858-59,1857, 1856, 1854, 1850, 1844, 1842, 1838-40, 1836, 1825, 1817, 1805-07, 1802-03, 1798, 1793, 1783, 1772(?), 1770Izalco volcano, El Salvador (image courtesy: Angela Rucker, USAID)No recent earthquakes
TimeMag. / DepthDistanceLocation
Izalco volcano was born in 1770 and is the youngest volcano in El Slavador. It formed on the southern flank of Santa Ana volcano located 45 km NW of San Salvador city.
Frequent strombolian eruptions and sometimes lava flows have built a largely unvegetated cone 650 m high which contains a 250 m wide and 50 m deep summit crater.
Volcán Izalco was frequently active between 1770 and 1966, but has been in its longest repose interval of its short history since then.
Similarly to Stromboli volcano in Italy, it acquired the nickname of "El Faro", the "Lighthouse of the Pacific", because of its frequent strombolian eruptions that provided a natural night-time beacon beacon for ships.
Izalco is one of the most frequently active volcanoes in North and Central America.


Volcán de Izalco is dominantly basaltic to andesite in composition. Its lavas are geochemically distinct from those of both Santa Ana and its fissure-controlled flank vents. The lavas from Izalco have markedly higher content of Al2O3, CaO and Sr, and lower incompatible elements (Zr, Rb, K, Ba and TiO2).
Most lava flows from Izalco were erupted from flank vents and traveled south due to the topographic setting on the slopes of Santa Ana volcano, reaching up to 7 km distance.

Izalco is known for its high-temperature minerals discovered at fumaroles in the summit crater, including shcherbinaite, bannermanite, stoiberite, fingerite, ziesite, blossite and mcbirneyite. 6 new vanadium minerals in particular were discovered at Izalco volcano and 5 of these have been elevated to mineral status. 2 of these minerals are among the most vanadium-rich compounds known in nature (Hughes and Stoiber, 1985).

Sources and further reading:
- Smithsonian / GVP volcano information
- J. M. Hughes, R. E. Stoiber (1985) "Vanadium sublimates from the fumaroles of Izalco volcano, El Salvador", J. of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 24 (3-4), pp. 283-291
- Rose, W. I. Jr., Stoiber, R. E. (1969) "The 1966 eruption of Izalco volcano, El Salvador" J. Geophys. Res., v. 74, pp. 3119–3130
- Sheets P. D. (2004) "Apocalypse then: social science approaches to volcanism, people, and cultures in the Zapotitan Valley, El Salvador", in : Rose W. I., Bommer J. J., Lopez D. L., Carr M. J., Major J. J. (eds) "Natural Hazards in El Salvador", Bolder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Special Paper v. 375, pp. 109–120

1999 increase in fumarolic activity
Fumarolic activity increased at Izalco volcano in 1999. Fumaroles at the summit of Izalco volcano that had not been active for 35 years started to emit hot (85 deg C) vapor in 1999. An increase had also been observed in November 1998 following Hurricane Mitch.

1973 thermal anomaly
A slight thermal anomaly of up to 15 deg C was detected by infrared measurements at the crater of Izalco in 1973. ...more

1966 eruption
Izalco volcano started to erupt on 28 October 1966 from a vent located 550 m on the SSE flank below the summit, the same area that also was active in 1946. the erution produced 2 lava flows of about 1.2 km length.

1926 eruption & fatalit
Lava flows from the eruption in 1926 buried the village of Matazano. 56 people were killed during the eruption.

1924 eruption
A strombolian eruption started around 24 October 1924 at Izalco volcano and lasted until 10 Nov, but shortly resumed on 21 December the same year.

1920-21 eruption
An eruption of Izalco volcano began on 29 October 1920 from a vent on the upper SE flank and lasted until 1 April 1921.

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