Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 16 July-22 July 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 July-22 July 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, 16 July-22 July 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During 16-22 July, moderate emissions of mainly gas and steam occurred at Popocatépetl. On 19 July at 0920 a moderate explosion produced an ash plume that rose ~3 km above the crater. After the event the volcano returned to its previous level of activity characterized by frequent and small steam-and-ash emissions. According to news reports, a small amount of ash fell in Mexico City. The international airport remained open, with minor disruptions to air traffic.
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.