Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 18 March-24 March 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 March-24 March 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 March-24 March 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
CENAPRED reported that emissions of steam and gas from Popocatépetl were visible during 18-24 March; the plumes contained slight amounts of ash during 20-21 and 23 March. An explosion on 23 March ejected incandescent fragments that landed near the crater. Based on information from CENEPRED, the Washington VAAC reported that a minor emission on 23 March produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 6.7 km (22,000 ft) a.s.l. A small ash plume was seen on satellite imagery drifting SE.
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.