The choice of Santa María as a Decade Volcano is based on its satisfaction of several criteria (Barberi et al., 1990).

Representative of One or More Hazards:

Santa María is representative of many convergent plate boundary volcanoes that are erupting magmas of intermediate composition, such as Mount St. Helens, Merapi, Pinatubo, Unzen, Colima, and Nevado del Ruiz. Santa María exhibits many different volcanic hazards: tephra fall, pyroclastic flows, silicic lava flows, debris flows, edifice instability, and volcanic dome collapse.

Geologically Active:

Santiaguito has been consistently active since 1922. Virtually every geological expedition to Santa María has reported significant changes and new deposits, and it is regarded as an excellent site for direct observations and measurements during eruptions.

In Populated Area:

Guatemala's population is concentrated in the volcanic highlands and the region on the Pacific coastal slope to the south, where its most productive land is located. There are more than 300,000 people and significant resource investments int eh vicinity of Santa María, including the cities of Quezaltenango and Retaluheu, a major geothermal power facility at Zuñil, a hydropower facility at Santa María de Jesús, and many plantations producing specialty crops such as coffee and cardamom. Understanding the hazards associated with volcanic activity at Santa María and Santiaguito is therefore vital to Guatemala.

Local support for the work:

The Guatemalan government, through INSIVUMEH and other agencies, has demonstrated an interest in mitigating hazards at Santiaguito. Although resources are limited, the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory has been constructed (GVN Bull., 1991, 16:2:2) and a major effort at seismic monitoring has been made over the past several years (GVN and SEAN Bull., 12-17, 1987-1992).

(Bennett, Rose, and Conway, 1992)