Pico de Orizaba, or Citlaltepetl, is a stratovolcano that is the highest mountain within Mexico.

Why Is It Famous?

Besides being the highest mountain in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba is the third highest within North America, with an elevation of 5,636 meters. It is also the world’s second-most-prominent volcanic peak.

What Is Nearby?

Pico de Orizaba sits on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It is along the eastern portion of the volcanic belt. The volcano is on the border between the Mexican states of Veracruz and Puebla.

Geological Description

As a stratovolcano, Pico de Orizaba is currently dormant, although it is not extinct. The last eruption occurred in the 19th century.

The geological evolution of Pico de Orizaba occurred in three stages. The most recent stage occurred around 16,000 years ago. The mountain includes three superimposed stratovolcanos plus dome intrusions. These include Torrecillas (650,000 – 250,000 years ago), Espolon de Oro (210,000 to 16,000 years ago), and Citlaltepetl (16,000 years ago to present).

The formation of the volcano occurred via thick lavas from repetitive explosive eruptions. The volcano has an elliptical crater that is estimated to be 154,830 square meters. The crater also reaches 300 meters at its maximum depth. The top of the volcano has a constant ice cap with multiple glaciers. The Jamapa Glacier played a strong role in the region’s geomorphologic evolution. It is located on the northeastern portion of the peak. The volcano also has the country’s biggest glacier, the Gran Glaciar Norte. Pico de Orizaba is just one of three Mexican volcanoes that still have glaciers.

Events In Time

The most recent volcanic eruption of Pico de Orizaba was in 1846, with a VEI 2 magnitude. Its most violent eruption was likely around 6710 B.C. It included pyroclastic flow and a lava dome extrusion with a VEI 5 magnitude.


The highest mountain within Mexico, Pico de Orizaba is a dormant stratovolcano formed for hundreds of thousands of years.