El Chichón, volcano, Chiapas, Mexico, 40 mi (59 km) SSW of Villahermosa, rising to 3,478 ft (1,060 m). Also known as Chichonal, it had not erupted significantly in historic times until 1982, when a violent eruption created a crater .6 mi (1 km) wide and 984 ft (300 m) deep, killed some 2,000 people, and affected some 9,000 sq mi (24,000 sq km) in several Mexican states. The eruption was exceeded in the 20th cent. only by that of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. There now is an acidic lake in the crater. A likely major eruption of the volcano c. AD 540 may have contributed to the Mayan decline in the second half of the 6th cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Latin American and Caribbean Physical Geography