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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 17 September-23 September 2003

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 September-23 September 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, 17 September-23 September 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (17 September-23 September 2003)


Popocatepetl

Mexico

19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During 17-23 September, moderate emissions of mainly gas, steam, and sometimes ash occurred at Popocatépetl. According to the Washington VAAC, on 21 September a small possible ash cloud was visible on satellite imagery at a height of ~7 km a.s.l., extending NW from the summit. The cloud dissipated rapidly.

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.

Sources: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)