Volcano Expeditions to Fuego, Pacaya & Sta. Maria
Of the 37 volcanos in Guatemala at present we learned about 3 currently active ones and we climbed all of them. At the same time Guatemala offers the possibillity to drive up to or climb many more perfectly shaped and incredibly beautiful volcanos that offer spectacular views of the environment around them such as volcan Atitlan, Agua, Acatenango and many more.
Franziska and I visited Guatemala in March-April 2003, which is the end of the here called "summer" in Guatemala. During this time visibility on the volcanoes is best during the night and the early mornings. After 9-10am visibility was mostly getting bad with clouds moving in. For that reason we climbed the volcanos with a very early start (3-5 am) to get to the summit before sunrise, or as with Fuego.. - the day before. These conditions get rather worse if You visit Guatemala during the wet season from late April until the end of September.
For different reasons we strongly recommend that You take a guide to climb Guatemala's volcanos. The most obvious reason is theft and robbery which hardly ever occurs when having a local guide. Climbing the active volcanos without a guide additionally harbours the danger of losing a lot of time - or even getting lost - on the many unmarked trails or when bad weather moves in. Additionally You will most probably stay safe as the guide knows where exactly and how close to an active vent/crater You can get without being in instant live danger. Even though we have marked the whole trails to Sta. Maria, Pacaya and Fuego on our GPS and would know the way for another expedition I would definitely still prefer to have a local guide. Doing overnight trips involves carrying a lot of gear and we always had them carrying parts of our gear too. Apart from that it is great fun too, to hear their stories, learn about local traditions, history and of course: support them with the little money they earn doing this job as a guide which still pays better than the hard work in the fields.
Franziska and I carry two additional backpacks for the guide(s) as they mostly cannot affort equipment like this. If You're travelling with Your own vehicle we recommend to have at least one additional backback handy for this case.
Which volcanos are nice to climb in Guatemala? Franziska and I primarily concentrated on the active ones as we are amazed to see their eruptions, smell their smokes, hear their sound and of course like the inherent adventure of standing at the edge... All of the currently active volcanos offer safe access and spectacular views of their eruptions.
There is more than 37 volcanos for You to choose. Click here to learn a little more and get some links to learn about the many currently dormant ones which also offer spectacular views.
Volcano Expedition to Fuego
Fuego was our most spectacular Expedition in Guatemala as Fuego currently erupts every couple of minutes spewing rocks sometimes as far as 300 meters high and up to 400 Meters around its crater mouth. At night this gives spectaculer fireworks, which at clear nights can be seen from Antigua and surrounding villages from far away. Currently the eruptions of Fuego are strongest close to or at fullmoon or new moon.
This interesting Phenomen was described by Martin and Rose 1981, as follows:Since 1800, 48% (23 of 48) of Fuego's eruptions occurred within ±2 days of the fortnightly maximum amplitude of vertical tidal gravity acceleration. The probability of 23 successes out of 48 events being random is 0.1%.
Most eruptions have occurred within ±3.5 days of the time of the full moon (or new moon) and the moon at perigee, which is when the stronger fortnightly tides occur. We conclude that there is a correlation between the times of eruptions at Fuego and the fortnightly lunar tidal maxima.
Also, the hours of the beginning and duration of many recent eruptions of Fuego have been compiled. The results of the comparison of the beginning of many eruptions since 1957 to the nearest calculated semi-diurnal minimum (of vertical tidal gravity acceleration) show that 9 out of 16 events occurred within ±2 hours of the minimum. This correlation also showed up well during the several stages of the 1974 eruption. The probability of 9 successes out of 16 events by chance is 2.0%. The eruptions are thus significantly clustered around the semi-diurnal minimum.
A further aspect of the influence of the Earth tides involves changes in the length of the day, as measured by an atomic clock (Melchior, 1966). Challinor (1971) reported semi-annual variations in the length of the day which are though to be caused by variation in the angular momentum of the atmosphere and by Earth tides. The maximum amplitude of the variation occurs in mid-January, mid-April, and mid-October. The mid-April and mid-October variation maxima occur at the times of maximum braking effect due to the bodily tide torque. Hamilton (1973) noted a correlation of increased volcanic activity near these dates. The influence of the rainy season, which occurs from May to October (plus a likely time lag) does not seem to be an adequate alternative explanation. No correlations with longer tidal cycles are evident, because components of the longer cycles cannot be easily separated from the fortnightly tidal maxima.
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