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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 31 October-6 November 2001


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
31 October-6 November 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 October-6 November 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (31 October-6 November 2001)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Volcanic activity remained low at Popocatépetl, with emissions of small clouds of steam, gas, and minor amounts of ash. Episodes of low-amplitude harmonic tremor also occurred. An aerial photograph of the crater was taken on 25 October by the Dirección General de Carreteras Federales, SCT. It showed that the lava dome, which was first reported on 20 September 2001, had subsided. In addition, a new, small 50-m-diameter lava dome had grown in the bottom of the internal crater. According to CENAPRED, a similar situation had been observed in April 2001 and the presence of the lava dome indicates the possibility of small explosions occurring in the next days to weeks. The volcano remained at Alert Level Yellow Phase II.

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)