Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 20 June-26 June 2012
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 June-26 June 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 June-26 June 2012. 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 during 20-25 June meteorological weather conditions often prevented observations of Popocatépetl's crater. Emissions were detected by the seismic network and an occasional steam plume was seen rising from the crater. On 24 June a gas-and-steam plume containing a small amount of ash drifted NE and a dense gas-and-steam plume drifted SW. Incandescence from the crater was occasionally visible at night. The next day emissions sometimes contained small amounts of ash. On 26 June visibility improved. Increased incandescence from the crater was accompanied by gas and very dark ash emissions that rose 0.8-2 km above the crater. The Alert Level remained at Yellow Phase Three.
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.