Jun 22, 2010, 9:28 AM
Post #1 of 4
While perusing some old family memorabelia, I came across a miniature TIME MAGAZINE, Pacific Pony Edition (the magazine edition printed in Hawaii and sent to U.S. troops in the Pacific during WW11) dated October 2, 1944 and thought some of you might enjoy excerpts from that magazine providing contemporaneous reporting on the birth of the Paricutin volcano.
"The greatest show on earth" (according to informed critics who have seen it) is now in the 20th month of an amazing run. Scene of the show is a Mexican plateau near the Pacific, about 200 miles west of Mexico City. Paricutín, the new volcano which erupted from a cornfield, has grown into a mountain some 1,500 feet high and shows no signs of weakening. Natives call it El Monstruo. Belching 2,700 tons of fiery rock a minute, the crater has overawed hundreds of tourists. Spectators break into applause....Hardened volcanologists, by their own account, have come away dazed with knees shaking....The extraordinary impression Paricutín has made on scientists springs from the fact that it is the first volcano they have been able to watch from birth. (said an eminent scientist) "This tremendous display was beyond all description....". El Montsruo broke out in a region that has had many previous eruptions.
On February 20, 1943, one Dionisio Pulido was plowing his cornfield when he suddenly felt the ground rumble and saw a great column of white smoke burst from the ground. He ran to the priest in the village of Paricutin, two miles away. By the time the priest and villagers arrived, the crater was belching molten rock and lava. In a week it had raised a cone 500 feet high; in ten weeks, 1,000 feet. The lava, erupting from the crater´s tops and sides, began to ooze over the countryside. The lava with a temperature of approximatelñy 1,994 Degrees Fahrenheit sets houses afire as it approaches and travels at a speed of about seven yards an hour. (At this writing) the lava has already engulfed two villages - Paricutin and Parangaricutiro.
Meanwhile, over a radius of 35 miles, the crater has laid a blanket of ash like black snow, crushing roofs, killing trees and in some places piled as high as rooftops ....Scientists near the base of the crater, keeping an eye out for falling bombs, have been working. Steam and gas pour from deep holes known as fumeroles.... Said (a scientist on scene), "This seemed like a glance into hades." Though El Monstruo has spread terror among the Indian natives, birds and animals seem unperturbed and spiders spin webs in the volcanic ash.
Volcanologists feel sure that when Paricutín burns itself out as it eventually must, it will stay dead, like other old volcanoes in the vicinity. Then the cooling, mineral-laden lava will become extraordinarily fertile.