Agua

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 14.465°N
  • 90.743°W

  • 3760 m
    12333 ft

  • 342100
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Agua.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Agua.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Agua.

The symmetrical, forested Volcán de Agua stratovolcano forms an impressive backdrop to the historic former capital city of Antigua Guatemala, opposite the twin volcanoes of Fuego and Acatenango. The 3760-m-high basaltic-andesite to andesite Agua volcano has an isolated position that makes it a prominent landmark from all directions. A small, 280-m-wide circular crater is breached on the NNE side. Six small pit craters are located on the NW flank, and two small cones lie on the south flank. Agua's symmetrical profile implies a relatively young age, although currently no dated Holocene tephra deposits are known. Agua has had no historical eruptions, but its name (the water volcano) originates from a devastating mudflow on September 11, 1541. The mudflow destroyed the first Guatemalan capital city established by the Spanish Conquistadors, which is now known as Ciudad Vieja. The catastrophe prompted the establishment of a new capital city at nearby Antigua.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1541 Sep 11 ] [ Unknown ] Discredited    

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Synonyms

Hunahpu

Cones

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Jaboncillo, Cerro Pyroclastic cone 1520 m 14° 25' 0" N 90° 43' 0" W
Agua volcano forms a scenic backdrop to the historical colonial city of Antigua Guatemala and is one of three major volcanoes surrounding the town. The capital city of Guatemala was moved here following a catastrophic mudflow from Agua in 1541 that destroyed the former capital city, now known as Ciudad Vieja.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
Agua volcano towers above the town of Santa María de Jesus on its NE flank. The shallow summit crater of Agua is notched on its northern side and was the source of a major mudflow in 1541 that destroyed towns on the NW flank of the volcano. This catastrophe was not accompanied by an eruption.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
Agua volcano (left) rises above the clouds west of Lake Amatitlán, located in the Amatitlán caldera. This 14 x 16 km wide Pleistocene caldera has produced many large explosive eruptions whose deposits underlie Guatemala City and surrounding areas. Pacaya volcano, out of view to the left, was constructed over the buried southern rim of Amatitlán caldera. The 3760-m-high Agua volcano is younger than Amatitlán, but has had no historical eruptions.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
A small atmospheric cloud caps the summit of symmetrical Agua volcano, which rises to 3760 m above the city of Escuintla. The volcano towers 3400 m above the city, the largest on the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. Escuintla underlies a massive debris-avalanche deposit from the Fuego-Acatenango massif, out of view to the left. No historical eruptions have occurred from Agua, but its relatively undissected profile indicates a youthful age.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
The beautifully symmetrical Agua volcano towers to 3760 m above the near-sea-level Pacific coastal plain to its south. Activity at Agua has continued into the Holocene, but no historical eruptions are known. The foreground surface is part of a massive Escuintla debris-avalanche deposit most likely produced by collapse of the Acatenango-Fuego massif, out of view to the left.

Photo by Jim Vallance, 1989 (Michigan Technological University).
Agua volcano towers to the east above the ancient capital city of Ciudad Vieja. A mudflow from Agua in 1541 AD destroyed this city, the first capital established by the Spanish conquistadors. The catastrophe caused the capital city to be relocated to nearby Antigua Guatemala.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1988 (Smithsonian Institution).
Agua volcano, seen here from the NE, is the most prominent volcano visible from Guatemala City. No historical eruptions have occurred at Agua volcano, despite its symmetrical, uneroded profile, and the volcano has not been studied in detail. Fuego volcano at the left center has been much more active, with about 60 eruptions during historical time.

Photo by Mike Carr, 1967 (Rutgers University).
Symmetrical Volcán de Agua, seen here in an aerial view from the SE, is the easternmost of a chain of 3000-m-high conical stratovolcanoes rising above the Pacific coastal plain. The town of Palín at the lower right lies along the highway between Guatemala City (just out of view to the right) and Escuintla. No historical eruptions are known from Agua, which has the distinction of a soccer field in its small summit crater.

Copyrighted photo by Stephen O'Meara, 1994.
Conical Volcán de Agua is one of Guatemala's most dramatic landmarks. Its 3760-m-high summit is prominent from Guatemala City. The summit crater of Agua is breached to the north, in the direction of this photo. Despite its youthful profile, no historical eruptions are known from Agua.

Copyrighted photo by Stephen O'Meara (1993).
Thick units of the 84,000-year-old Los Chocoyos Ash are exposed south of Guatemala City, more than 100 km from its source at Atitlán caldera. Three flow units are visible here. The pinkish layer at the center of the outcrop is the oxidized top of the pyroclastic-flow deposit and is one cooling unit. The bottom two layers are the top and bottom halves of the thick white layer of the pyroclastic-flow deposit. The two fall deposits above the Los Chocoyos Ash are unit E from Amatitlán caldera and the younger unit C from Agua volcano.

Photo by Bill Rose, 1978 (Michigan Technological University).
Of the four major Guatemalan volcanoes in this photo, only conical Agua volcano (right-center horizon) has not erupted during historical time. Lava flows from MacKenney cone (forming the slope in the left foreground) have filled in the moat of the caldera of Pacaya volcano almost to the level of the lower crater rim of Cerro Chino (right-center foreground), whose summit bristles with communication antennas. The twin volcanoes on the left horizon are Fuego (left), one of the most active in Guatemala, and Acatenango (right).

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
The flanks of Pacaya volcano provide a spectacular vista of the twin volcanoes of Fuego and Acatenango (left) and conical Agua volcano (right). Despite its youthful profile, Agua has not erupted in historical time. These impressive volcanoes all exceed 3500 m in elevation and rise from near sea level on the Pacific coastal plain to the south. Volcanism at the Acatenango-Fuego pair has migrated to the south, and Fuego, its summit kept free of vegetation by frequent eruptions, is one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1999 (Smithsonian Institution).
Steaming Pacaya volcano (lower right) lies across a valley from symmetrical Agua volcano (upper left). Pacaya was constructed near the southern margin of Amatitlán caldera, whose SE rim lies near the right-center margin. The 14 x 16 km wide caldera was formed during a series of major silicic explosive eruptions between about 300,000 and 23,000 years ago. The irregular margins of Lake Amatitlán are constrained on the SW side by post-caldera lava domes. The outskirts of Guatemala City lie at the upper right.

NASA Landsat image, 2000 (courtesy of Loren Siebert, University of Akron).
The historical city of Antigua Guatemala (top-right margin) is surrounded by three major stratovolcanoes in this Landsat view with north to the upper right. Dark-colored Acatenango volcano (upper left) and the unvegetated summit of Fuego volcano lie SW of the city, and Agua volcano (right-center) lies south. No historical eruptions from Agua are known, although mudflows in 1541 caused the abandonment of Ciudad Vieja, the previous capital city of Guatemala. Barrancas radiating SE from Fuego are light-colored from deposits of historical eruptions.

NASA Landsat image, 2000 (courtesy of Loren Siebert, University of Akron).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Cameron B I, Walker J A, Carr M J, Patino L C, Matias O, Feigenson M D, 2003. Flux versus decompression melting at stratovolcanoes in southeastern Guatemala. J Volc Geotherm Res, 119: 21-50.

Carr M J, 1984. Symmetrical and segmented variation of physical and geochemical characterisitics of the Central American volcanic front. J Volc Geotherm Res, 20: 231-252.

Eggers A A, 1971. The geology and petrology of the Amatitlan quadrangle, Guatemala. Unpublished PhD thesis, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 221 p.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Mooser F, Meyer-Abich H, McBirney A R, 1958. Central America. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 6: 1-146.

Schilling J W, Vallance J W, Matias O, Howell M M, 2001. Lahar hazards at Agua volcano, Guatemala. U S Geol Surv Open-File Rpt, 01-432: 1-8.

Volcano Types

Stratovolcano

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Continental crust (> 25 km)

Rock Types

Major
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Minor
Dacite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
9,890
114,404
2,530,449
7,441,660

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Agua Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.