In the highlands of Guatemala, 40 miles west of the national capital and about 50 miles inland from the Pacific coast, there is one of the most beautifully situated and spectacular scenic features on the North American continent. It might, by some, be called a crater lake, and in its origin and history it resembles the famous, so-called “Crater Lake” of Oregon, which has been established as a national park. But Lake Atitlan is not in a true crater. The basin is more appropriately spoken of as a great caldera, and it is one of the largest, if not, indeed, the largest, physiographic feature of its kind in the world. (See figure 1.)
Like Crater Lake of Oregon, Lago de Atitlan is in an area roughly circular in form, where a huge mass of the crustal portion of the earth has apparently collapsed. The diameter of the great hole, when . . .