Although Misti is the most poluar volcano in Arequipa, this is not the only one that accompanies the approximately 1,300,000 inhabitants of this region.
Next to the imposing Misti are the Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes, but there are also others such as Coropuna, Sabancaya and the complex of small volcanoes in the province of Castilla.
The latter still keep a bit of the white mantle that more than 10 years ago characterized the three massifs. As a result of global warming, the snow-capped mountains of Misti Chachani and Pichu Pichu decreased considerably, but the most notorious was in Misti. However, during the rainy season, the crater still dons its white poncho to give a wonderful view to those born in this land and to look elegant to visitors.
The coordinator of the Ingemmet Volcano Observatory, Marco Rivera Porras, points out that volcanoes are “scenic beauties” that should be used as tourist attractions.
Rivera highlights that Arequipa settled in an excellent geology because it has a variety of soils thanks to the presence of volcanoes. In the districts of Yura and Cerro Colorado, the houses were founded on ashlar, in Characato on volcanic soils, which is why agriculture exists. “After thousands and thousands of years, the lands where the ashes were left become fertile,” he said.
Hot springs like those that exist in Yura are other wonders that arose from the presence of volcanoes. But what is the situation of these colossi in Arequipa?
El Misti is an active volcano, which according to specialists and considering the eruptive periodicity that it had (every two thousand years), would have already erupted. However, it is still calm with the emission of light gases and it is for this reason that it is considered a dormant volcano.
To know the evolution of its behavior, the OVI specialists monitor the massif in real time with equipment that allows them to know the number of earthquakes that have occurred per day, the emission of fumaroles and the presence of gases.
Seven are the most active volcanoes in Peru, but Misti is considered the most dangerous because it has a million inhabitants at its feet.
The Chachani is a volcano considered potentially active, which according to Rivera does not rule out that it will erupt again at some point. “Its last activity was more than 40 thousand years ago and at the moment no gases are observed,” he said. However, to work on prevention, the OVI specialists will start the studies from the following year.
The concern arose from the thousands of people who settled on the slopes of this crater in recent years.
Pichu Pichu Volcano
It is the oldest of the aforementioned volcanoes and the chances of them being reactivated are minimal. This crater erupted millions of years ago, therefore it is not among the 12 active or potentially active volcanoes.
Unlike the others, this massif is not located in the capital of this region, but 75 kilometers northeast of Arequipa, in the province of Caylloma. This volcano is the second most active in Peru, after the Ubinas in Moquegua. The last eruption of the Sabancaya began on November 6, 2016 and is still active.
Domingo Ramos, an OVI specialist, points out that the population must learn to live with the volcano, as long as they have a contingency plan and respect the hazard map.
In Arequipa the snow-capped Coropuna volcano is also present, it is the highest, the top is at 6377 meters. It is also considered potentially active and is located 150 kilometers from Arequipa, between the provinces of Castilla and Condesuyos. The snow-capped mountain always has a permanent ice cap.
Valley of the volcanoes
The valley of the volcanoes is in the province of Castilla. There are approximately 60 domes or small volcanoes that present a sight to behold, because they are between 300 and 1200 meters in diameter and the highest height would be 300 meters.
Rivera Porras points out that they may have eruptions, but not significant ones. Its last eruptions are presumed to have been more than 500 years ago.
This volcanic field is the main tourist attraction in the areas of Andagua, Orcopampa and Huambo, because the lava and volcanic stones that they expelled are still in place.