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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 29 November-5 December 2000


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
29 November-5 December 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, 29 November-5 December 2000. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (29 November-5 December 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 Popocatépetl, with several small-to-moderate exhalations and eruptions. Remote-sensing data, aviation sources, and CENAPRED provided more details. One of the larger series of eruptions occurred during 0900 to 1215 on 29 November, sending ash-and-steam plumes to ~7.3 km a.s.l to the ENE. Another moderate eruption at 1055 on 30 November sent an ash cloud to ~7.3 km a.s.l. GOES-8 imagery showed that by 1815 the cloud extended at least 204 km to the ENE and traveled over the Bay of Campeche, which is ~300 km to the E of the volcano. Between 0345 and 0402 on 4 December an eruption occurred that sent ash to ~7.6 km a.s.l. Throughout the week frequent exhalations sent ash to ~6-7.6 km.

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)