The name Cuexcomate is from the Nahuatl language and means “place to keep” or “warehouse”. The same word still designates artisanal barns in the state of Morelos.
The crater of Cuexcomate is an empty cone of an extinct geyser. Cuexcomate is an inactive geyser in Puebla city, Puebla state, Mexico. The sinter cone that the geyser built up around its vent is 13 meters tall and has a diameter of 23 meters.
A central crater within the cone is up to 8 meters wide and 17 meters deep (extending 4 meters below ground level).
Historically, Cuexcomate has been cited that the geyser was formed before the 1064 eruption of the Popocatépetl, an active volcano and the second highest peak in Mexico, which likely activated geothermal spring circulation that cut upward through Mesozoic limestone and deposited the geyser and the springs around it.
The geyser’s rock composition is 99% calcite, differing thus from typical silica sinter deposits.
Cuexcomate has been mistakenly called “the smallest volcano in the world” because of the popular belief that it was indeed a volcano, based only on the shape of the structure; however, it is not a volcano.
The geyser is found at the intersection of 2 Poniente (west) and 3 Norte (north), in the Colonia La Libertad, in the square of the same name in Puebla City. La Colonia La Libertad was incorporated into the city of Puebla in 1943.
On November 27, 1970, a plaque was placed to commemorate the founding of La Libertad around the sides of the Cuexcomate geyser.
Currently, it is possible to enter through the crater, where there are spiral-shaped stairs that allow one to descend to the interior of the crater, into the excavated interior of the structure, where cultural events are occasionally performed.
At the bottom, there is sulfurous water that rises from the caves, which has not been studied.
It is believed that of the various tunnels that cross under the city of Puebla, one runs from the hill of Loreto to the hill of San Juan (now the hill of La Paz) and from there travels down to the hill Cuexcomate, afterward crossing under the Atoyac River and ending in the Archaeological zone of Cholula and its pyramids.
- Visitors can descend to the interior of the Cuexcomete crater from 10:00 to 18:00.
Geyser Type: calcitic chemical deposit
Height: 13 meters
Crater Diameter: 8 meters
Base Exterior Diameter: 23 meters
Weight: approx. 400 tons.
Mode of formation: emanating geothermal waters with occasional high-pressured bursts
A description of Cuexcomate from the year 1585 says:
“at one league from this city, close to the bridge that they call Cholula, there is in a large grassland… in a circular shape, a rock of 6 or 7 estados high, at the top of which there is a great mouth as if it were made to hold a waterwheel. The which is very deep, and at the bottom of which there is foul-smelling water, a very important thing to note: there they say that in the heathen days they threw in (indios) natives to be sacrificed to their idols”
Cuexcomate was formed, in an area that was to become the town of La Libertad, by hydrothermal circulation prior to the 1064 eruption of Popocatépetl.
The last eruption of the geyser was in 1562, although it only spewed gases and boiling water, its structure is more similar to that of a volcano. Inwardly, it continues to be connected to Popocatepetl, which is why it could launch water again.
In prehispanic times, the Cuexcomate Geyser has been used to store meals and dispose of dead bodies. It was said that in ancient times, the people of Puebla threw the bodies of suicide victims into the crater because they did not deserve to be mourned or buried.
During this same time, the people living around the geyser were said to be ‘children of the devil’ or ‘under the rule of the devil’, because of Cuexcomate.
During the New Spain period, it was the place of reception for sinners, inside it the suicides were thrown since they were not worthy of the requiem for their souls nor did they take place in the holy field. Later it was transformed into a garbage dump, people threw their waste inside and it was about to be covered.