Explore Santiago Crater

Just outside of Managua is the Masaya National Park, which is not only home to the Masaya Volcano but was also one of the first national parks to be protected in Nicaragua. The Masaya caldera was formed by a basaltic ignimbrite eruption that occurred two thousand five hundred years ago. It has two cones within its basaltic complex, namely the Nindiri and Masaya cones. The Nindiri cone is home to pit craters that include the Nindiri crater, the Masaya crater, the Sand Pedro crater and the Santiago crater. The Santiago crater has been a hive of activity on this ancient volcano and is the most popular crater for tourists to visit.

The Santiago Crater is believed to have been formed between 1858 and 1859, and has had many collapses and activity that has shaped the crater to the form it takes today. In 1906, a massive degassing event occurred and the initial collapse created a crater that was six hundred meters wide and one hundred and fifty meters deep. Lines of this original collapse can still be seen. During the years of 1948 to 1965, the scree floor of the crater started being resurfaced by lava lakes that are separated through concentric faults. The lava lakes, or at times thin flows of lava, are on the north and east side of the crater and run into the old crater pit that is located in the south east of the crater. With all the changes that the Santiago Crater has undergone, it now consists of an inner and outer crater. Both craters are one hundred and fifty meters deep and there are still active vents in the Santiago Crater.

The degassing process takes place in cycles and in 1993 another cycle began, meaning that white clouds of gasses being emitted can be seen. The crater is an impressive site to visit and the short exposure that visitors have to the sulfur gasses emitted are not threatening. It does, however, have an effect on the surrounding area and its plant life. Strangely enough, the gasses seem to have no effect on a colony of green parakeets that have made the crater their home! Taking on the hiking trail to the Santiago Crater is not only worth it for seeing the crater but also to enjoy the magnificent views the crater has to offer.