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Ubinas
Uvillas or Uvinas
Volcán Ubinas, Arequipa, Perú, 2015-08-02, DD 50.JPG
Ubinas in August 2015
Elevation 5,672 m (18,609 ft)
Translation Quechua: "to stuff", "to fill", "to grow", "to increase"; Aymara: "to weep", "to murmur" (Quechua or Aymara)
Location
Ubinas District, General Sánchez Cerro Province, Moquegua Region, Peru
Range Peruvian Western Cordillera, Andes
Geology
Type stratovolcano
Age of rock Pleistocene-recent
Volcanic belt Central Volcanic Zone
Last eruption 2019

Ubinas is a stratovolcano in the Moquegua Region of southern Peru, 60 kilometres (37 mi) east of the city of Arequipa. Part of the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes, it is 5,672 metres (18,609 ft) above sea level. The volcano's summit is cut by a 1.4-kilometre (0.87 mi) wide and 150-metre (490 ft) deep caldera, which itself contains a smaller crater. Below the summit, Ubinas has the shape of an upwards-steepening cone with a prominent notch on the southern side. The gently sloping lower part of the volcano is also known as Ubinas I and the steeper upper part as Ubinas II; they represent different stages in the geologic history of Ubinas.

The most active volcano in Peru, Ubinas has a history of small- to moderate-sized explosive eruptions as well as larger eruptions such as in 1667, along with persistent ash emissions. Activity at the volcano began in the Pleistocene epoch, and led to the growth of the current mountain in two phases. It last erupted in June 2019. In light of its activity, Ubinas is monitored by the Peruvian geological service INGEMMET, which has published a volcano hazard map for Ubinas and regular volcano activity reports.

Name and mythology

The historian and geographer Mariano Felipe Paz Soldán relates the name Ubinas to two terms in two different languages. In the indigenous language Quechua, uina means "to stuff", "to fill", and uiña is translated as "to grow", "to increase". In Aymara hupi means "weep" or "murmur"; hupina is the genitive of hupi. Local inhabitants believed that Ubinas was infested by demons and the souls of people who had fallen from God. The volcano is also known as Uvillas or Uvinas.

Climate and vegetation

The climate of the area changes with elevation. The summit of Ubinas has a cold climate with temperatures frequently falling below 0 °C (32 °F); at lower elevations temperatures can exceed 18 °C (64 °F) during daytime, but night frosts are still possible. The region is arid overall, but during the summer wet season rainfall can cause landslides at lower elevation, and the upper parts of the volcano including the caldera can receive a snow cover. Weather data are available for the town of Ubinas at 3,200 metres (10,500 ft) elevation: the average temperature is 9–11 °C (48–52 °F) and the average annual precipitation is about 300–360 millimetres per year (12–14 in/year). The present-day snowline exceeds 5,400 metres (17,700 ft) elevation, but during the Pleistocene epoch it descended to about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft).

Vegetation at 3,400–4,200 metres (11,200–13,800 ft) elevation consists of grassland, bushes and low trees forming a shrub vegetation in valleys. Farther up, between 4,200–4,700 metres (13,800–15,400 ft) lies a vegetation form called pajonal, which consists of creeping plants, grasses and shrubs made up of high Andean vegetation. Small lakes and areas of waterlogged soil form wetlands called bofedales, in which aquatic plants and rosette-forming plants grow; both bofedales and pajonal also feature cushion plants. The upper sector of Ubinas is vegetation-free. Animal species have been described mainly in the context of the National Reserve; they include various birds and camelids such as alpacas, guanacos, llamas and vicuñas.

Human use

Sulfur deposits in the crater of Ubinas were considered among the most important sulfur deposits in Peru and were mined in the 19th century. Ubinas has been considered a potential place for geothermal energy production.

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