Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 12 December-18 December 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 12 December-18 December 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 12 December-18 December 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During the week, Popocatépetl emitted small clouds of steam, gas, and generally minor amounts of ash. In addition, episodes of harmonic tremor were recorded. The highest reported ash cloud was produced from an eruption on 17 December at 2213. It rose 7.3 km a.s.l. and drifted to the SW. CENAPRED reported that a new 190-m-diameter lava dome in the volcano's crater was observed on 11 December.
Geologic Background. Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major Plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred since the mid-Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since Pre-Columbian time.