Ilopango is a caldera that formed in 260 A.D. Ash from this explosive eruption covered much of central El Salvador. Lake Ilopango fills part of the caldera. Islas Quemadas, a volcanic dome, formed within the caldera in 1879-1880. Periods of dome extrusion coincided with tidal forces. Earthquake swarms preceded each extrusion.
Photograph by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.
A complex, fairly sophisticated Mayan culture lived in the highlands of El Salvador in the third century. The violent eruption at Ilopango destroyed the land for a 60 mile (100 km) radius around the volcano. Thousands of people died. Excavations, like the one in this photo, are providing new insights into Mayan culture.
The eruption ended the presence of Mayan society in the highlands. Large numbers of refugees fled to lowland areas in Guatemala and Belize. A major trade route was abandon. Rulers at Tikal gained control of commerce.
Photographs by Steve O'Meara of Volcano Watch International.
The main volcanoes in the Central American arc in El Salvador.
Sources of Information:
Golombek, M.P., and Carr, M.J., 1978, Tidal triggering of seismic and volcanic phenomena during the 1879-1880 eruption of Islas Quemadas volcano in El Salvador, central America: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 3, p. 299-307.
Hart, W.J.E., and Steen-Mcintyre, V., 1983, Tierra Blanca Joven tephra from the AD 260 eruption of Ilopango caldera, in Sheets, P.D., ed., Archeology and Volcanism in Central America: Austin, University of Texas Press, p. 14-34.
McClelland, L., Simkin, T., Summers, M., Nielsen, E., and Stein, T.C., 1989, Global Volcanism 1975-1985: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 655 p.
Sheets, P.D., 1979, Maya recovery from volcanic disasters, Ilopango and Ceren: Archaeology, v. 32, p. 32-42.
Sheets, P.D., 1979, Environmental and cultural effects of the Ilopango eruption in Central America, in Sheets, P.D., ed., Archeology and Volcanism in Central America: Austin, University of Texas Press, p. 14-34.
Simkin, T., and Siebert, L., 1994, Volcanoes of the World: Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona, 349 p.