This extraordinary silent 16mm home movie was shot by Dr. Harold L. Thompson, and shows the eruption of the Paricutin volcano. It likely dates towards the end of the volcanic eruption in the early 1950s. Thompson was a Los Angeles surgeon who liked to shoot home movies and present them. Around this same time he made an amateur film entitled "Invitation to Hawaii" which was widely seen around the USA. He was also president of the Los Angeles Physicians' Art Society.
Parícutin (or Volcán de Parícutin, also accented Paricutín) is a dormant scoria-cone volcano located in the Mexican state of Michoacán, near the city of Uruapan and about 322 km west of Mexico City. The volcano surged suddenly from the cornfield of local farmer Dionisio Pulido in 1943, attracting both popular and scientific attention. This eruption presented the first occasion for modern science to document the full life cycle of an eruption of this type. During the 9-year life span of Parícutin, scientists sketched and mapped it, took samples as well as thousands of photographs of this volcano. By 1952, the volcano left a 424 meter high cone and significantly damaged a 233 km2 area with the ejection of stone, ash and lava. Three people were killed, two towns were completely evacuated and buried by lava and three others were heavily affected. Hundreds of people had to be permanently relocated, with two new towns created to accommodate the migration of people. Although the area still remains highly active volcanically, Parícutin itself is quiet and has become a tourist attraction, with people climbing the volcano itself and visiting the hardened-lava covered ruins of the San Juan Parangaricutiro Church. Parícutin is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as assigned by CNN.
Parícutin erupted from 1943 to 1952, unusually long for this type of volcano and with several eruptive phases. For weeks prior, residents of the area reported hearing noises similar to thunder but without clouds in the sky. This sound is consistent with deep earthquakes from the movement of magma. A later study indicates that the eruption was preceded by 21 earthquakes over 3.2 in intensity starting five weeks before the eruption. One week prior to the eruption, newspapers reported 25-30 per day. The day before the eruption, the number is estimated at 300.
The eruption began on February 20, 1943, at about 4pm. The center of the activity was a cornfield near the town of Parícutin, owned by Dionisio Pulido. During that day, he and his family had been working their land, clearing it to prepare for spring planting. Suddenly the ground nearby where they were working swelled upward and formed a fissure between 2 and 2.5 meters across. They report that they heard hissing sounds, and smoke which smelled like rotten eggs, indicating the presence of hydrogen sulfide. Within hours, the fissure would develop into a small crater.
Over the next seven years, the volcano became less active, with the ejection of ash, stone and lava coming sporadically, with periods of silence in-between. Professional geologists pulled out of the area in 1948, leaving only Celedonio Gutierrez to continue observations. The last burst of activity was recorded by him between January and February of 1952. Several eruptions occurred in succession and a three-kilometer smoke column was produced.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com