Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 31 December-6 January 2015
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 December-6 January 2015
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, 31 December-6 January 2015. 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 31 December-6 January seismicity at Popocatépetl indicated continuing emissions of water vapor and gas, which occasionally contained ash. Cloud cover sometimes prevented views of the crater. Incandescence from the crater was visible on a few nights. Explosions on 1 January at 1948 and on 3 January at 1228 produced ash plumes that rose 600 m and drifted NE. An explosion at 0714 on 4 January generated an ash plume that rose 1.3 km and drifted E. An ash plume later that day rose 1.5 km and drifted NE. 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.