The Misti Volcano is located at the foot of the Chili Valley, within the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, at an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level. It is called Misti for its meaning in Quechua: ‘man of the white race’, since Arequipa is known as the ‘White City’ for its constructions made from white ashlar.
A Little History
The antiquity of this volcano, whose summit reaches 5,822 meters above sea level, dates back to approximately 800 thousand years. It is said that in colonial times it was known as the «unnamed volcano»; According to the myths, the ethnic groups that lived near the crater had to flee their lands due to the explosion of the volcano and when they returned, they removed their name as a kind of reprimand.
Other versions indicate that it was called Machu Putina, which in indigenous languages means «Old Volcano». This is due to the duality in the Andean cosmovision, since 40 kilometers further is the Huayna Putina, which means «young volcano». The truth is that it is not known exactly since when it began to be called Misti.
The Volcanic activity
El Misti is a stratovolcano considered one of the 10 active and/or potentially active volcanoes of the Andes mountain range, with fumaroles visible from the city of Arequipa. Its last significant volcanic activity was in the year 1870.
Geological studies show that 5 minimal eruptions were recorded during the 20th century and it had a major eruption in the 15th century. It is important to note that the Misti, being an active volcano, is permanently monitored by the Southern Volcano Observatory (OVS) of the Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP).V
About the Volcanoes in Peru
In Peru, approximately 400 volcanoes have been identified that are located in the Volcanic Zone of the Andes, which extends to the north of Chile. Although most of these volcanoes are inactive, there is a group located in southern Peru that is active. This activity has manifested itself through eruptive processes, and currently with fumarolic manifestations and/or seismic movements. Within the group of active volcanoes, there is the Misti volcano itself, as well as the Ubinas, the Huaynaputina, the Ticsani, the Sabancaya, the Tutupaca and the Yucamani.
Data of Interest
During the colonial era, most of the houses in Arequipa were built with ashlar, white stone formed with the deposition of ashes and lapilli during the pyroclastic eruptions of the Misti Volcano.
During an expedition led by archaeologists José Antonio Chávez and Johan Reinhard in 1998, six Inca skeletons were found near the summit, which are presumed to have been human sacrifices.