The Cuexcomate volcano, in a suburb of the city of Puebla, is generally considered to be the world’s smallest volcano.
Weighing in at an estimated 40 metric tons, it stands just 13 meters (43 feet) tall, with a reach (diameter) of 23 meters (75 feet). The name Cuexcomate derives from the Nahuatl Cuexcomac which means bowl or place for keeping things.
Mexico has thousands of volcanoes, and many very interesting ones, but Cuexcomate must surely be the only volcano in the country with a spiral staircase inside it! The volcano formed in 1664, as an offshoot parasitic cone during an eruption of a much larger volcano, Popocatépetl.
Cuexcomate is considered “inactive” and highly unlikely to burst into renewed activity. However, Popocatépetl itself has been increasingly active over the past few years, leading to several temporary evacuations of the villages around its base. If Popocatépetl were to erupt violently again, some locals believe that perhaps the subterranean link to Cuexcomate might be re-established and the world’s smallest volcano could become somewhat larger…
Let’s hope that never happens. It would bring an end to one of the more unusual tourist attractions in this part of Mexico. Climbing down a spiral staircase into claustrophobic darkness is hardly an everyday experience for a tourist, or indeed for a vulcanologist. The crater is about eight meters across. Inside there is, frankly, not much to see apart from the inevitable lava!
Cuexcomate volcano is located in a residential suburb of the city of Puebla, a city better known for its proximity to archaeological sites, colonial buildings and a massive Volkswagen factory.
The world’s smallest active volcano is probably Mount Taal, located near the city of Tagaytay in the Philippines. It is a positively gargantuan 508 meters (1,660 feet) high, more than thirty-nine times the height of Cuexcomate, its Lilliputian cousin.
This is an edited version of an article first published on MexConnect: Original article
Volcanoes, in all their sizes and shapes are discussed in chapter 2 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico