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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 15 November-21 November 2000


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
15 November-21 November 2000
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 November-21 November 2000. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (15 November-21 November 2000)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Volcanic activity continued at a high rate at Popocatepetl, with several small-to-moderate exhalations. The Mexico City MWO and the Washington VAAC reported that at 0947 on 14 November a small ash-and-steam exhalation produced a cloud that was visible on GOES-8 imagery; it reached an altitude of ~8 km a.s.l. The cloud rapidly dissipated as it moved briefly to the NNE. At 0910 on 17 November a steam-and-possible-ash emission produced a cloud that reached up to 6.5 km a.s.l. and was blown to the NNW. The Popocatepetl camera recorded an ash cloud from a steam-and-ash exhalation that occurred at 0730 on 20 November. The cloud reached ~6 km a.s.l., was blown to the NNW, and deposited light ash in the town of San Pedro Nexapa ~10 km to the NW of the summit. On 21 November three moderate ash-and-steam exhalations sent ash to between 6 and 7 km a.s.l. The volcano's alert level remained at Yellow Phase III.

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.

Sources: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)