Approximately 750 000 people live at risk in the city of Arequipa, whose center lies 17 km from the summit (5820 masl [meters above sea level]) of the active El Misti volcano. The composite edifice comprises a stratovolcano designated Misti 1 (ca. 833– 112 ka), partially overlapped by two stratocones designated Misti 2 and Misti 3 (112 ka and younger), and a summit cone Misti 4 (11 ka and younger).
Eight groups of lava flows and pyroclastic deposits indicate the following volcanic history. (1) Three cones have been built up since ca. 112 ka at an average eruptive rate of 0.63 km3/k.y. (2) Several episodes of growth and destruction of andesitic and dacitic domes triggered dome-collapse avalanches and block-and-ash-flows. Deposition of these flows alternated with explosive events, which produced pyroclastic-flow deposits and tephra-fall and surge deposits. (3) Nonwelded, dacitic ignimbrites may reflect the formation of a 6 × 5 km incremental caldera collapse on Misti 2 (ca. 50 000 and 40 000 yr B.P.) and a 2 × 1.5 km summit caldera on Misti 3 (ca. 13 700 to 11 300 yr B.P.). (4) Tens of pyroclastic flows and at least 20 tephra falls were produced by Vulcanian and sub-Plinian eruptions since ca. 50 ka. On average, ash falls have occurred every 500 to 1500 yr, and pumice falls, every 2000 to 4000 yr. (5) Misti erupted relatively homogeneous andesites and dacites with a few rhyolites, but Misti 4 reveals a distinct mineral suite. Less evolved andesites prevail in scoriaceous products of group 4–1 including historical ash falls. Scoriae of Misti 4 and the ca. 2300–2050 yr B.P. banded pumice commonly show heterogeneous textures of andesite and rhyolite composition. This heterogeneity may reflect changes in physical conditions and magma mixing in the reservoir. (6) Deposits emplaced during the Vulcanian A.D. 1440– 1470 event and the sub-Plinian eruption(s) at ca. 2050 yr B.P. are portrayed on one map. The extent and volume of these deposits indicate that future eruptions of El Misti, even if moderate in magnitude, will entail considerable hazards to the densely populated area of Arequipa.