TIMELINES: What volcano in Mexico erupted killing 2,000 people March 29, 1982?

March 29, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012


March 29, 1982, about 2,000 people living close to El Chichon, a 4,500-foot mountain in southern Mexico, are killed in a devastating earthquake and volcanic eruption. Because El Chichon has been largely inactive for over 600 years (though there was a small eruption in 1850), residents living in the fertile grounds around the mountain have little concern for the potential danger of the volcano. However, less than a year prior, two geologists surveyed the land and concluded that El Chichon’s seismic activity had increased significantly creating a real potential of a major eruption. However, the residents living around the volcano fail to heed the warnings and on the morning of March 29, 1982, at approximately 5:15 a.m. the combination of a massive earthquake and volcanic eruption devastate the area killing thousands. The ash and gases released circle the globe for three weeks and do not dissipate for at least three years in one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.


Last Tuesday, a magnitude-7.4 earthquake rattled densely populated Mexico City, killing two people. The quake damaged thousands of homes throughout the southern states of Mexico. The earthquake’s magnitude-7.4 made it one of the three largest seismic events to hit Mexico since the devastating quake of 1985.