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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 20 January-26 January 2016


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
20 January-26 January 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 January-26 January 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (20 January-26 January 2016)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that during 20-23 and 25 January the seismic network at Popocatépetl recorded 16-68 daily emissions consisting of water vapor, gas, and ash, and 2-5 explosions per day. At 1000 on 23 January an increase in activity was characterized by continuous gas-and-ash emissions, likely related to the destruction of a recently-formed lava dome. Later that night cameras recorded incandescent fragments ejected during periods of emissions. Activity decreased at 0200 on 24 January and then increased again at 0844, with explosions. A series of explosions on 25 January began at 1000 and ended at 1840. Constant steam-and-ash emissions drifted ENE. Another series of explosions occurred during 0218-0600 on 26 January. One of the explosions ejected incandescent fragments 900 m onto the NE flank. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.

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)