Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 30 December-5 January 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 30 December-5 January 2016
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, 30 December-5 January 2016. 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 29 December-5 January the seismic network at Popocatépetl recorded 4-92 daily emissions; 191 were detected on 3 January. As many as 11 explosions were detected daily and variable nighttime crater incandescence was observed. Explosions on 2 January ejected tephra onto the N flank, and a small steam, gas, and ash plume drifted E on 4 January. A seven-hour period of explosions started at 2246 on 4 January and ended at 0545 on 5 January. Six more explosions occurred in the evening. 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.