The “world’s smallest volcano” has been used to store meals and dispose of dead bodies. Cuexcomate is an inactive geyser in Puebla City. The crater of Cuexcomate is an empty cone of an extinct geyser.
The sinter cone that the geyser built up around its vent is 13 m tall and has a diameter of 23 m. A central crater within the cone is up to 8 m wide and 17 m deep (extending 4 m below ground level).
The geyser’s rock composition is 99% calcite, differing thus from typical silica sinter deposits.
Cuexcomate was formed before the 1064 eruption of the Popocatépetl, which likely activated geothermal spring circulation that cut upward through Mesozoic limestone and deposited the geyser and the springs around it.
The word Cuexcomate is from the Nahuatl language and means “clay pot” or “place to keep”.
Cuexcomate has been mistakenly called ‘the smallest volcano in the world’ because of the popular belief that it was indeed a volcano, based only on the shape of the structure; however, it is not a volcano at all.
There are spiral metal stairs that allow one to descend to the interior of the crater.
The geyser type is a calcitic chemical deposit.
- Height: 13 m
- Crater Diameter: 8 m
- Base Exterior Diameter: 23 m
- Weight: approx. 400 tons
Mode of formation: emanating geothermal waters with occasional high-pressured bursts
A description of Cuexcomate from the year 1585 says:
“at one league from this city, close to the bridge that they call Cholula, there is in a large grassland… in circular shape, a rock of 6 or 7 estados high, at the top of which there is a great mouth as if it were made to hold a waterwheel.
The which is very deep, and at the bottom of which there is foul smelling water, a very important thing to note: there they say that in the heathen days they threw in (indios) natives to be sacrificed to their idols”
Cuexcomate was formed, in an area that was to become the town of La Libertad, by hydrothermal circulation prior to the 1064 eruption of Popocatépetl. La Libertad was incorporated into the city of Puebla in 1943.
On November 27, 1970, a plaque was placed to commemorate the founding of La Libertad around the sides of the Cuexcomate geyser.
In ancient times, indigenous threw the bodies of suicide victims into the crater because they did not deserve to be mourned or buried. The people living around the geyser were said to be ‘children of the devil’ or ‘under the rule of the devil’.
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