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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — January 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 1 (January 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Ash plumes observed in mid-February

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199501-341090



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Increases in both the frequency and intensity of ash emissions was noticed by Claus Siebe on 12 and 13 February during fieldwork on the slopes of the volcano. Plumes observed were the highest since this eruption began on 21 December (19:11-12), with an estimated height of ~2,500 m reached on 13 February. Large puffs observed at 1525, 1630, and 1730 on 12 February did not rise very high because of a strong wind blowing towards the NE. On 13 February the wind was weaker, especially during the morning, and plumes occurred at about 0930, 1100, 1130, 1525, 1625, and 1950. In addition, anomalously acidic pH values were measured at Ojo de Carbon springs located on the S slopes near Tlapanala.

During the Holocene Popocatépetl has produced both effusive and pyroclastic activity. About 30 eruptions are known since 1345, although early documentation is poor. Most historical eruptions were apparently mild-to-moderate Vulcanian steam and ash emissions. Larger explosive eruptions were recorded in 1519 and possibly 1663. Activity in 1920-22 produced intermittent explosive eruptions and a small lava plug in the summit crater. Ash clouds were also reported in 1923-24, 1933, 1942-43, and 1947.

Geological Summary. 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.

Information Contacts: Claus Siebe, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM, Coyoacán.