Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 10 August-16 August 2016
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 August-16 August 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, 10 August-16 August 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Each day during 10-16 August CENAPRED reported 35-133 emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained minor amounts of ash, and as many as four explosions. Cloud cover sometimes prevented observations, though gas-and-steam plumes were visible almost daily. Crater incandescence was visible at night. On 11 August there were six landslides detected by the seismic network; the largest one occurred on the NW flank at 0853 and had a volume of 440 m3, and the second largest one, on the N flank, occurred at 1756 and had a volume of 220 m3. An explosion on 12 August generated an ash plume that rose 2.5 km above the crater and drifted WNW, causing ashfall in Ozumba (18 km W) and Atlautla (16 km W). An explosion at 0034 on 13 August ejected incandescent material onto the flanks. Two more explosions that day and one on 14 August produced plumes with low ash content that rose as high as 1 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.