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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 25 February-3 March 2015

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 February-3 March 2015
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2015. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 February-3 March 2015. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (25 February-3 March 2015)



19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that a series of explosions at Popocatépetl from 2250 on 24 February to 0345 on 25 February was accompanied by periods of tremor and Strombolian activity which ejected incandescent material as far as 700 m onto the NE and SE flanks. Additional explosions (19) were detected on 25 February. Ashfall was reported in San Martín Texmelucan, San Matías Tlalancaleca, San Salvador el Verde, Santa Rita Tlahuapan, Tlaltenango, Huejotzingo, San Miguel Xoxtla, Domingo Arenas, Santa María Atexcac, and the Puebla airport. Explosions on 26 February ejected incandescent tephra 700 m away from the crater onto the N and NE flanks. Ashfall was noted in Domingo Arenas, San Martín Texmelucan, and Huejotzingo in the state of Puebla. The international airport in Huejotzingo suspended operations to clean up the ash. Steam, gas, and ash plumes drifted NE.

On 27 February explosions generated ash emissions and ejected incandescent tephra 300 m onto the flanks. Ashfall was reported in Huejotzingo, Domingo Arenas, Tlaltenango, San Andrés Cholula, and Puebla. During an overflight that same day, volcanologists observed dome number 55 which had grown and was filling the bottom of the inner crater. The dome was 250 m in diameter and at least 40 m thick, putting it about 60 m from the bottom of the main crater floor. The volume was an estimated 1.96 million cubic meters. The volcanologists also observed a small explosion that produced a 1.5-km-high ash plume.

Two separate series of explosions were detected on 28 February, and incandescent tephra was ejected 300 m onto the flanks. Steam-and-gas plumes rose from the crater during 1-2 March. Steam, gas, and ash plumes rose as high as 1.5 km on 3 March. Low-amplitude harmonic tremor and explosions were detected. Ash emissions drifted N. Incandescent tephra was ejected 100-300 m onto the N and NE flanks. 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.

Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)