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During the 5½ years since its birth Paricutin Volcano has been constantly active, with lava issuing at a remarkably uniform rate and ash and bombs somewhat less uniformly. In the first two years the dense ash eruptions destroyed many thousands of acres of crops, pastures, and forests in the area near the volcano, while ash-laden flood waters caused damage well outside the immediate area. During the past three years the less continuous ash eruptions have permitted a limited agricultural and biological recovery in the marginal zones, although some processes, such as erosion, continue almost unchecked.
The current investigation of the geochemical activity and eruptive behavior of Paricutin and of the petrology of its ash deposits and lava flows is for the purpose of adding to our knowledge of the poorly understood processes of volcanic eruptions and ore formation. Because the volcano area is itself a giant natural laboratory, it has been the object of a variety of studied--some of them of a continuous nature--not only in geology and geophysics, but also in biology, geography, agriculture, and other natural sciences.
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