The volcano began as a fissure in a cornfield owned by a P'urhépecha farmer, Dionisio Pulido on February 20, 1943. Pulido, his wife, and their son all witnessed the initial eruption of ash and stones first-hand as they plowed the field. The volcano grew quickly, reaching five stories tall in just a week, and it could be seen from afar in a month. Much of the volcano's growth occurred during its first year, while it was still in the explosive pyroclastic phase. Nearby villages Paricutín (after which the volcano was named) and San Juan Parangaricutiro were both buried in lava and ash; the residents relocated to vacant land nearby.
At the end of this phase, after roughly one year, the volcano had grown 336 meters (1,102.36 ft) tall. For the next eight years the volcano would continue erupting, although this was dominated by relatively quiet eruptions of lava that would scorch the surrounding 25 km² (9.65 mi²) of land.
The volcano's activity would slowly decline during this period until the last six months of the eruption, during which violent and explosive activity was frequent. In 1952 the eruption ended and Parícutin went quiet, attaining a final height of 424 meters (1,391.08 ft) above the cornfield from which it was born. The volcano has been quiet since. Like most cinder cones, Parícutin is believed to be a monogenetic volcano, which means that now that it has finished erupting, it will never erupt again. Any new eruptions in a monogenetic volcanic field erupt in a new location.
Volcanism is a common part of the Mexican landscape. Parícutin is merely the youngest of more than 1,400 volcanic vents that exist in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and North America. The volcano is unique in the fact that its formation was witnessed from its very inception. Three people died as a result of lightning strikes caused by the eruptions, but no deaths were attributed to the lava or asphyxiation.
Shots of the volcano during its active phase were included in 20th Century Fox's film Captain from Castile, released in 1947.
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