Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 17 December-23 December 2014
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 December-23 December 2014
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2014. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 December-23 December 2014. 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 the International airport in Puebla temporarily closed on 17 December due to ashfall from a 0446 explosion at Popocatépetl that generated a 2-km-high ash plume. The explosion also ejected incandescent tephra that landed 700 m down the N flank. Three more explosions were detected that day. During 18-23 December seismicity indicated continuing emissions of water vapor, gas, and frequent ash. Incandescence from the crater was visible each night. Three explosions occurred on 18 December; the last one generated an ash plume that rose 2 km and drifted NE. Explosions on 19 December generated ash plumes that rose 500-800 m. Explosions ejected incandescent tephra that landed 100-200 m down from the crater on the NE and N flanks. During an overflight volcanologists observed a lava dome at the bottom of the crater. Two explosions were detected during 22-23 December. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.
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.