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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 18 April-24 April 2012


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
18 April-24 April 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 April-24 April 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (18 April-24 April 2012)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that multiple gas-and-ash plumes rose from Popocatépetl on 18 April; one of the emissions was accompanied by increased incandescence in the crater. An explosion ejected incandescent fragments that landed on the N and NE flanks as far as 800 m from the crater. The fragments landed on snow and generated small lahars. A dense gas, steam, and ash plume drifted E and SE. On 19 April gas-and-ash plumes rose above the crater and drifted ESE, and incandescent fragments rolled 1 km down the flanks. The next day an episode of spasmodic tremor was accompanied by a dense plume of gas, water vapor, and ash that rose 1.5 km and drifted E. During 21-23 April gas-and-steam emissions that sometimes contained small amounts of ash drifted SE, E, and SW. Seismicity was low during 21-22 April and again increased on 23 April. That same day an ash plume drifted NE and incandescent fragments were ejected W. The Alert Level remained at Yellow Phase Three.

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.

Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)