Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 17 July-23 July 2013
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 July-23 July 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 July-23 July 2013. 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 17-23 July seismicity at Popocatépetl indicated continuing gas-and-steam emissions that sometimes contained ash; cloud cover often prevented visual confirmation. Incandescence from the crater was occasionally observed. On 17 July an explosion was detected at 1516. During a period of clear weather on 19 July observers noted steam-and-gas plumes drifting W. An explosion at 1533 generated a steam, gas, and ash plume that rose 700 m above the crater and drifted NW. Another explosion was detected at 2257. On 20 July steam-and-gas plumes rose 1 km and drifted SW; steam, gas, and ash emissions rose 1.2 km and drifted WSW. Steam-and-gas plumes were bluish on 21 July; the plumes rose 500 m and drifted NW. An explosion at 0343 on 23 July generated an ash plume that rose 1.1 km and drifted NW. The Alert Level remained at to 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.