Huaynaputina’s eruption is the largest volcanic eruption to take place in South America.

Antonio Vázquez de Espinosa’s book Fray relates the story of Huaynaputina’s largest eruption. He was a Spanish monk who proselytized Native Americans in South America and Mexico. The Huaynaputina is a stratavolcano, a cone-shaped volcano built by layers of hardened lava and other fragments produced by volcanoes.

On this day February 19th, in 1600, Huaynaputina erupts at 5:00 pm. It becomes the largest documented volcanic eruption in South America, killing approximately 1,500 people while burying a number of towns. That was a year of abnormal global weather, when Russia had the coldest winter in six centuries, which caused an outbreak of famine, and vegetation bloomed late around the world. This however cannot be deduced as causation, and instead as correlation. Nonetheless it is intriguing.

Speaking of intrigue, the circumstances surrounding Huaynaputina’s eruption are anthropologically fascinating. The volcano is located in Southern Peru which was inhabited by the Incan Empire. The natives thought it best to soothe the volcano, and perhaps God(s), through the act of offering sacrifices: vegetation, pets, and human sacrifice. Obviously their approach did not work, as days later molten lava exploded through the Peruvian skies.