On February 20, 1943, Mexican farmer Dioniso Pulido noticed a small crack in his cornfield, and the ground nearby shook and became hot. About a month later, columns of volcanic ash began to emerge from the crack and a volcanic cone began to rise before the eyes of the villagers of Parícutin.
The Parícutin eruption was the first opportunity for scientists to observe the formation of this type of volcano from beginning to end.
Michoacán is a state in the southwestern part of the country. Its name, given by the Aztecs, means "place of those who have fish".
Two mountain ranges cross the state: the Sierra del Sur and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (Sierra Nevada). There are more than 80 volcanoes (including Pico de Tancítaro, Patamban and Paricutin) and Mexico's largest inland body of water, Lake Chapala.
The formation of the volcano was observed both by volcanologists and by the natives of the Purépecha tribe.
The volcano's activity increased after a month when it began to spew volcanic ash into the air and covered the roofs of nearby settlements of Paricutin and San Juan Parangaricutiro.
The volcano ejected mainly pyroclastic (ejecta) material. Ejecta, or the crumbly products of a volcanic eruption, are formed by spraying liquid lava, solidifying it in the air, and pulverizing rocks crushed by the explosion.
The altar also survived because the flowing lava stopped right in front of it. This event was considered a clear miracle. Locals believe that God saved the church and visit it to pray.
They moved the image of Christ from the altar to the church in Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro, a new village founded by people from settlements engulfed by the volcano.