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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 10 July-16 July 2013


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
10 July-16 July 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 July-16 July 2013. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (10 July-16 July 2013)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that scientists aboard an overflight of Popocatépetl on 10 July confirmed the presence of a new lava dome that was 250 m wide and 20 m thick. During 10-16 July seismicity indicated continuing gas-and-steam emissions that sometimes contained ash; cloud cover often prevented visual confirmation. Incandescence from the crater was observed at night during 9-11 July. Plumes with small amounts of ash were observed at 1556 and 1736 on 10 July, and an explosion was detected at 2259. Medium-sized explosions at 1949 on 11 July, and at 0137 and 0300 on 12 July, ejected incandescent tephra 2 km onto the E flank and 1 km onto the N flank. According to a news article, on 12 July a flight into and out of México City’s (65 km NW) international airport was canceled and operations at a small airport in Puebla (~50 km to the E) were suspended.

Early on 13 July a gas-and-ash plume was observed drifting NE. During 13-14 July steam, gas, and ash emissions rose from the SE part of the crater, some incandescence from the crater was observed, and a dense steam-and-gas plume was noted. On 15 July a plume of steam, gas, and ash rose 1 km and drifted W. During an overflight later that day scientists observed a 200-m-wide and 20-to-30 m deep crater where the lava dome had been; explosions during the previous few days had destroyed the dome. At 0036 on 16 July a steam-and-gas plume containing minor amounts of ash rose from the crater. Incandescence emanating from the crater was also observed early that day. 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.

Sources: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Agence France-Presse (AFP)