Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 15 April-21 April 2015
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 April-21 April 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, 15 April-21 April 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 15-21 April the seismic network at Popocatépetl recorded 19-157 daily emissions. Cloud cover sometimes prevented observations of the crater, although ash plumes and nighttime crater incandescence were often noted. Explosions at 0617 and 0857 on 15 April generated ash plumes that rose 1 km and drifted E. On 17 April an explosion was detected as well as a steam-and-gas emission with low ash content that rose 1-2 km. The next day, on 18 April, six explosions generated steam-and-gas plumes with small amounts of ash that rose as high as 1.5 km and drifted NE. A series of smaller, low-intensity explosions between 1636 and 2330 produced emissions of steam, gas, and small amounts of ash that rose 300 m and drifted NE. Some incandescent tephra fell 100-500 m away onto the N and NE flanks. On 19 April seven explosions generated steam-and-gas plumes with small amounts of ash that rose as high as 1.5 km and drifted NE. At 1052 on 20 April an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 3 km and drifted E. Incandescent tephra was ejected 500 m E. On 21 April three explosions generated plumes with some ash that rose 500 m.
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.