Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 29 January-4 February 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 January-4 February 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 January-4 February 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Volcanic activity continued at low-to-moderate levels at Popocatépetl during 28 January to 3 February. Activity consisted of small-to-moderate emissions of steam, gas, and small amounts of ash, and sporadic episodes of low-amplitude harmonic tremor. A moderate-sized emission occurred on 2 February at 0826 that produced an ash column to a height of ~2 km above the volcano. In addition, there were episodes of harmonic low-amplitude tremor during 2 hours.
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.