Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 23 March-29 March 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 March-29 March 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 23 March-29 March 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 22-29 March the seismic network at Popocatépetl recorded 6-60 daily emissions that sometimes contained ash; 127 were detected on 28 March. Crater incandescence was observed on most nights. At 1052 on 24 March an ash plume rose 1.6 km above the crater and drifted NE. At 0026 the next morning a low-intensity explosion generated an ash plume that rose 500 m and drifted NE. Incandescent tephra was ejected as far as 400 m onto the N flank. Explosions during 27-29 March generated plumes that rose as high as 1.5 km. 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.